Much about the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fundlooks different this year. Instead of competing in a series of challenges and fashion shows for one grand prize, all 10 of this year’s designers (and designer duos) received a monetary grant and a year of industry mentorship. Given the creative and financial struggles independent designers have faced throughout the pandemic—from canceled orders to production delays to shrinking teams—the decision to give them each a boost of support came easily. Still, bolstering these rising stars is bigger than simply helping them produce another collection; as Anna Wintour, the global editorial director of Vogue and chief content officer of Condé Nast, put it last month, “It’s not only a vote of confidence in their talents, but in a brighter future for American fashion.”
One thing that hasn’t changed about the CVFF, of course, is the level of ingenuity and creativity in the winning designers. This year’s group includes ready-to-wear, accessories, and jewelry makers all over the country, from New York to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, and Maryland. You might know some of their names, while others will be brand-new discoveries. We caught up with them all to discuss how their businesses changed in 2020 and their hopeful plans for “re-emerging” this summer.