The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) of the State University of New York (SUNY) has been a leader in career education in art, design, business, and technology throughout its history. Providing almost 9,000 students with an uncommon blend of hands-on, practical experience, theory, and a firm grounding in the liberal arts, the college offers a wide range of affordable programs that foster innovation and collaboration. Now, the prestigious institution aims to be a leader in the fight toward social justice in the world of fashion and beyond.
This month, FIT announced the Social Justice Center, a program aimed at increasing opportunity and accelerating social equity for the BIPOC community in the fashion/creative industries. Fashion’s biggest brands and names— PVH, Capri Holdings Limited, and Tapestry, Inc., Ralph Lauren, Prada, Saks, Target, and G-III Apparel Group—are listed as partners and supporters of the center. Putting action to their dedicated partnership, each brand has pledged $1 Million to help launch the Social Justice Center. Additionally, well-known fashion icons Bethann Hardison and Brandice Henderson-Daniel are on board to assist the institution in its endeavors to build the center’s missions as SJC Advisory Council members.
In an official press release, the Social Justice Center (SJC) outlined their major goals as being to “holistically address diversity issues and provide support to nurture talent throughout the lifecycle of their career – from early education (starting in middle school), college mentorship and training, through professional career support. The SJC will have a dual approach—to bring a more diverse group into the higher-education pipeline and to enhance opportunities for professional growth within the industries.” Jeffrey Tweedy, former president and CEO of Sean John and a FIT alumnus, will be a special advisor to the FIT president to help build and expand the center.
“A powerful and much overdue dialogue was sparked last year around diversity and inclusion, which led to a sobering realization that there was much work to do within the creative industries and at FIT as well. Since then, we have been building a strong foundation for the Social Justice Center at FIT. I am grateful for the early support from PVH, Capri Holdings, Tapestry, G-III Apparel Group, and FIT’s other charter partners. They have demonstrated a formidable commitment to these efforts, and I am confident that the center is poised to effect meaningful change,” said FIT President Joyce F. Brown.
An advisory council of 16 executives has been established to collaborate and help asses progress to bring about equity within the creative industries. A search is underway to name an executive director of the SJC, who will report to President Brown.