Design Entrepreneurs (FIT DE), a free, intensive “mini-MBA” program that teaches emerging designers how to run a successful label, kicked off its seventh year at a reception held on January 11 at the headquarters of G-III Apparel Group, Ltd., the program’s founding sponsor. The guests of honor were principals from the 24 fashion companies selected for the 2018 class.
The designers accepted into this highly competitive program—the 24 companies were selected from a pool of 246 applicants—are immersed in weekend learning intensives focused on marketing, financials, and operations taught by FIT instructors and industry experts. Each designer is also paired with a dedicated mentor to help them complete a personalized business plan. The program culminates with a pitch event at which select designers present their business plans.
A $100,000 prize provided by G-III will be awarded to the company that presents the most outstanding business plan, and the $50,000 Israel Goldgrub Award will go to the second-place company. Both will use these funds to implement business plans developed as part of the program.
Lord & Taylor has pledged $25,000 to the program and will showcase the winner’s designs in-store this summer.
Additional companies that support FIT DE 2018 include Herman Kay, The Doneger Group, Lafayette 148, Scott Kay, and YM Fashions.
The FIT Design Entrepreneur Class of 2018 includes designers of menswear, women’s wear, lingerie, jewelry, scarves, and footwear.
The program began in 2012 as Design Entrepreneurs NYC (DENYC), a collaboration between the New York City Economic Development Corporation and FIT to support emerging fashion design entrepreneurs in developing comprehensive and effective business plans and to provide the designers access to industry professionals. Through this process, 155 companies, in consultation with industry mentors, have developed strategic plans to accelerate the growth of their businesses.
Alumni include Chromat, CADET, David Hart, Haus Alkire, and Abasi Rosborough, among many others.