Yves St Laurent studied under Dior. Donna Karen worked for Anne Klein. Tom Ford was a design assistant to Cathy Hardwick. Starting a career as a fashion entrepreneur, or in any of the creative industries, does not follow the typical entrepreneur’s journey. In fashion, the apprenticeship model reigns supreme.
Roberta Annan started the African Fashion Fund (AFF) in part to make it possible for African designers to have access to global apprenticeships. “I believe in apprenticeship. It’s so important. If you look at all the major fashion brands in this world, they worked under somebody before they became big. I wanted to find a way to promote that,” she said. Through their fellowship program, AFF has helped placed African designers in apprenticeships in New York with designers such as Bibhu Mohapatra and EDUN of LVMH. AFF covers all of the associated costs.
In the world’s poorest regions, there is no single path to development. Government agencies, non-governmental organizations, and private enterprises all have roles to play. Bureh engages with Sierra Leone’s private sector to promote, at a grass roots level, private enterprise and the entrepreneurs who will make this happen, all while being a socially responsible, for-profit company itself. Read More »
My latest research* has to do with how people express themselves through the brands they consume. It’s a topic that has interested me for some time.
I grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., the daughter of immigrants in a happy but definitely modest household. I didn’t go to a fancy high school — although, living in New York, I was very aware of fashion and labels. In fact, while riding the subway to school, I was regularly exposed to conspicuous consumption — from Wall Street bankers in their custom suits, to fashionistas who sported the latest styles. I got the distinct impression that “when you got it, you flaunt it.” So when I arrived for my freshman year at Harvard — the ultimate ivory tower and in a way itself a luxury brand — I had some pretty clear expectations of how people would signal their status. I had in mind something like Dan Ackroyd’s country club-going character Winthrop in the movie Trading Places. But what I saw got me thinking about what status signals really mean. Read More »