Shop Stitch Fix’s New Elevate Collection, Featuring the Work of Six Black Entrepreneurs

Stitch Fix is ​​getting smarter and smarter. Launched in 2011 as a personal styling service, the company has recently expanded into e-commerce, introducing a “custom mall” called Freestyle that offers individual products to users who prefer to avoid the hassle of postal mail. But the company has also made smart investments in the wider fashion industry, as evidenced by the brand’s Elevate collection, which launched today on October 8.

Elevate, an annual grant and membership initiative, was launched following the George Floyd protests in 2020. The goal was to elevate and usher in the next wave of black fashion designers changing the industry. , with recipients receiving $ 25,000, plus counseling sessions and access to Stitch Fix product reviews.

“It takes a lot to create a change in the [fashion] space, ”says Loretta Choy, general manager of women’s fashion at Stitch Fix. “We wanted to leverage our resources and create a program that would be scalable, where we can actually provide entrepreneurs with the in-depth information that we have that may not be an easily accessible resource for everyone. “

This year’s recipients represent an impressive array of global talent from different corners of the fashion market. They understand:

  • Diarra Bousso, owner of Diarrablu. With inclusive sizing, the specialty of womenswear brand Diarrablu is the algorithmically generated prints created in a sustainable manner in Dakar, Senegal.
  • Jamela Acheampong, owner of Kahmune. High quality shoes in sizes 6 to 11 are the singular goal of Kahmune; each shoe is made in a range of shades to match the skin tone.
  • Busayo Olupano, owner of Busayo. Inspired by traditional African prints, Busayo’s dresses and blouses feature eye-catching pops of color in sizes from 0-16.
  • Marcus Thomas, owner of Marcus Alexander. The gender-neutral shoe brand makes unique yet utilitarian sneakers in sizes 8-13.
  • Bettina Benson, owner of Chloe Kristyn. A classic and sophisticated brand of women’s clothing making workwear chic, Chloe Kristyn sells an assortment of blouses, bottoms, dresses and knits in sizes 0-16.
  • Robin Sirleaf, owner of Sarep + Rose. The only brand of accessories in the Elevate range, Sarep + Rose is already making a name for itself. But the company’s ethically sourced materials, turned into handbags by all-African entrepreneurs, are what make the products shine.

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    The Elevate collection is inspired by each brand’s lookbooks and features Stitch Fix exclusive products, such as Kahmune’s very first bootie and Sarep + Rose’s mini bucket bag. But while curation offers shoppers the opportunity to acquire new favorites from outside traditional retailers, it also gives recipients the opportunity to learn exactly what their customer wants.

    Olupano, for example, has seen a huge increase in the popularity of printing following the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. People are ready to dress up big again.

    A lawyer by training, Olupano has only been running Busayo since 2012, but she has been designing patterns since she was young. “Coming from Nigeria, there is a little advantage in that we have a culture where you make clothes for yourself,” she says. “If you have an event, we have something in our culture called aso ebi, which literally means family clothing. So, at each event that you organize, we choose a fabric, a particular print that we have to wear that identifies us as [relatives]. “In 2012, she started learning how to make specific textiles in bold and beautiful prints, an attitude that eventually became the encapsulation of the Busayo brand.

    During the pandemic, she created the Bayo Maxi dress, believing that no one would want to wear it other than her. When a customer purchased the garment, Olupano texted her to find out where she was planning to wear it. A gala ? A marriage?

    “She lives in Chelsea, and she was like, ‘Well, I think I’m going to wear it to the grocery store,’” Olupano says. “That’s when I was like, ‘Okay. We’ve got something here.

    a busayo dress from the stitch fix elevate 2021 collection
    A Busayo dress.

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    But figuring out exactly what impressions will trigger that response has been Olupano’s toughest challenge to date. She needed advice from a source with more resources, more data. The Elevate program first caught her attention on the 2020 application deadline day. She saw the potential prizes – $ 25,000, along with this key analytical information – and decided to cancel her plans for the next year. evening. She eliminated her candidacy in two hours and ended up winning.

    “It was really amazing,” she says. “I’m not talking bullshit, really. There are a lot of programs that different companies created after George Floyd. [But] I think what’s really powerful about this one is the opportunity to talk to [mentors]… you see the gap between where you are and where a Stitch Fix would be. So I felt like I was participating in a masterclass every month.

    Olupano and his fellow scholars have become close friends in the process. “We text all the time,” she says. “When we all met, we felt like we had known each other for a very long time.” Comments like this convinced Choy – and the rest of Stitch Fix’s management – that this program is more than a face-saving D&I initiative. It is an entry into the collaborative and global future of fashion.

    Elevate products can be purchased through the traditional Freestyle and Stitch Fix subscription box. Take a look at some of SHEpreferred choices from below.

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