Diane Von Furstenburg, Melody Lee, Simon Doonan, Stacey Bendet, Robin Kramer, Liz Rodbell, Kelli Adams, Steven Kolb (Photography: Madison McGaw/BFA.com)
Cadillac mixes with fashion, yet again! The chicest automaker and the Council of Fashion Designers of America launched the Retail Lab, a mentorship program for designers. Six designers will be chosen for the 2016-2017 term; they’ll earn retail experience under the tutelage of fashion industry experts, and will open a retail shop on the ground floor of Cadillac’s New York-based global headquarters for three months. The first designer selected is Timo Weiland, whose shop opens to the public in early July.
“The CFDA is always looking for meaningful programs that help strengthen the impact of American Fashion,” said Steven Kolb, CFDA president and CFDA. “Every designer aspires to a freestanding retail experience that allows them to tell their brand story and connect directly with consumers. Cadillac’s commitment to the industry will help the selected designers make this a reality.”
In addition to covering costs for the retail space (real estate, display units, mannequins, signage, point of sale system, etc.), Cadillac will give each designer a $75K grant to put toward wholesale buys, sales support, and marketing. “Our ongoing partnership with the CFDA represents Cadillac’s unwavering commitment to the fashion community and its growth,” said Melody Lee, director of brand strategy and planning at Cadillac. “Retail Lab will give designers a space in the heart of Cadillac’s headquarters, along with the tools, training and inspiration to take their business to the next level.”
The Advisory Board will curate the curriculum, develop a handbook, and provide mentorship. Members include Billy Reid; Bobby Schuessler, Who What Wear; Darcy Penick, Shopbop /East Dane; Jan-Hendrik Schlottmann, Derek Lam; Jay Silver, CBiz; Josh Peskowitz, Magasin; Julie Gilhart; Kelli Adams, Redscout; Liz Rodbell, Hudson Bay Company; Marigay McKee, MM Luxe Consulting; Matt Marcotte; Melody Lee, Cadillac; Rachel Besser, market editor, Refinery29; Rachel Shechtman, STORY; Reed Krakoff; Robin Kramer, Kramer Design Group; Robin Zendell, Robin Zendell LLC; Simon Doonan, Barneys New York; Stacey Bendet Eisner, Alice + Olivia; and Steven Alan.
Applications open today and end May 6. The five additional designers will be selected by the Advisory Board, and will be announced at the end of May. Click here to see the requirements and to apply. Good luck!