Fashion Trust U.S. — a nonprofit funding and nurturing young design talent — has expanded its awards, adding accessories as a category. A date has been set for its second annual ceremony, which is happening on April 9 at a private residence in Los Angeles, WWD has learned exclusively.
“To be honest with you, I would have loved to have launched with accessories, but we felt that maybe let’s just test and see how everything goes,” said Tania Fares, cofounder and co-chair of The Fashion Trust. “I see this as a category that is very much needed. And there is so much that we could do and support.”
Accessories includes shoes, bags, hats, scarves, belts, sunglasses and gloves. Winners receive a financial grant between $100,000 and $200,000, depending on the size of their business and yearly turnover, as well as one-year mentoring. Both U.S. citizens and noncitizens may apply, but businesses must be based and registered in the U.S., employ American creators and workers and exist for a minimum of two years.
“Our focus right now is to reach out to all the talent, for them to be aware that Fashion Trust U.S. exists, what we can do for them, what we can get them,” Fares said.
Last year’s event, hosted by comedian Phoebe Robinson at Goya Studios, awarded designer prizes in six categories. They each took home a Fairmined gold trophy designed by sculptor and jeweler Ana Khouri. According to Fares, the 2023 winners received their grants at the end of June.
The St. John Ready-to-Wear Award went to New York-based mechanical engineer-turned-knitwear designer Aisling Camps, allowing the designer to produce a collaboration with the Southern California luxury brand and receive mentorship by its global chief executive officer Andy Lew. The Jewelry award went to Brooklyn-based identical twin creators Soull and Dynasty Ogun of L’Enchanteur, presented by Tracee Ellis Ross.
The Graduate Award, sponsored by Shop With Google and presented by Law Roach, went to West African fashion designer Papa Oppong. And the Google Creativity Award, presented by Ciara and designer Mike Amiri, was awarded to Puppets and Puppets designers Carly Mark and Ayla Argentina. Meanwhile Jacques Agbobly of Agbobly got the Inclusivity Award and Elena Velez received the Sustainability Award.
Fares brought together a buzzy board of advisers for the contest, including Kate Hudson and Miranda Kerr; stylists Karla Welch and Roach; editors Laura Brown and Samira Nasr; Academy Award-winning costume designer Arianne Phillips, and designer and TV personality Tan France. Using seed donations from the L.A.-based British heiress Jordana Reuben Yechiel, jewelry designer Jacquie Aiche and 24 other founding patrons in the real estate, finance and art worlds, Fares set up the nonprofit Fashion Trust U.S. in 2022, with the goal of awarding prizes in amounts determined by a designer’s need.
The 2023 awards brought out Demi Moore with daughter Scout LaRue Willis, who performed, Heidi Klum, Paula Abdul, Olivia Wilde, Kathryn Newton, Christine Chiu, Alessandra Ambrosio, Adir Abergel, Sabrina Dhowre Elba, Zoey Deutch, Lake Bell, Madeline Brewer, Hannah Einbinder and Kate Beckinsale.