Meet the Emerging Designers Nominated at This Year’s CFDA Fashion Awards

The designers behind Theophilio, ERL, KHIRY, Kenneth Nicholson, and Maisie Wilen are all on the list.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America‘s 2021 Fashion Awards ceremony is officially back in person on Nov. 1. Last year’s 2020 CFDA Fashion Awards were held virtually via CFDA’s RUNWAY360, their digital platform for year-round collection releases, so it would be an understatement to say that the fashion world is ready to celebrate face-to-face this year. Taking place in New York City at THE POOL + THE GRILL, many nominees and honorees will be celebrated for their outstanding work in the fashion industry.

Founded in 1962, the CFDA is a not-for-profit trade association composed of 452 members of America’s finest womenswear, menswear, jewelry, and accessory designers. They place high value on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through the IMPACT initiative, as well as on Sustainability in Fashion. Besides hosting the annual CFDA Fashion Awards, the organization also helps put together the Official New York Fashion Schedule as part of the American Collections calendar.

Image Courtesy of Theophilio/CFDA
Image Courtesy of ERL/CFDA

Nominations for the 2021 CFDA Fashion Awards were submitted by the CFDA Fashion Awards Guild, comprised of members of the CFDA, combined with top fashion retailers, journalists, and stylists. Among these nominees are some brand-new emerging designers for this year, including Edvin Thompson for Theophilio, Eli Russell Linnetz for ERL, Jameel Mohammed for KHIRY, Kenneth Nicholson, and Maisie Schloss for Maisie Wilen. Emerging designers are supported through professional development programming and grant and scholarship opportunities through the CFDA, and each of these designers is nominated for the American Emerging Designer of the Year.

Theophilio is a contemporary clothing label based in Brooklyn, backed by Edvin Thompson, the Jamaican-American designer, who values diversity and inclusion. Through his clothing, he aims to help tell the stories of those the world often fails to embrace. With his designs, he celebrates life after overcoming obstacles. ERL is a ready-to-wear brand from Eli Russell Linnetz, originating in Venice Beach, California. His designs take on the spirit of California inspiration, with colorful, relaxed clothing. With KHIRY, Jameel Mohammed wanted to subvert the conventions of luxury, create rarified designs with precise craftsmanship, and make statements to value Black life and culture. As an artist and designer, he founded KHIRY to channel the beauty, art, heritage, and culture of the African Diaspora into modern vermeil jewelry.

Image Courtesy of KHIRY/CFDA
Image Courtesy of Kenneth Nicholson/CFDA

As a label, Kenneth Nicholson advances the approach of menswear, challenging boundaries and emphasizing strong silhouettes and innovative techniques of their construction. Launching in 2016, the label takes influence from worldly details, art history, and the precision of military culture. Last but not least, Maisie Schloss of Maisie Wilen produces knit-wear-inspired women’s pieces that are “fashion-conscious yet idiosyncratic, sexy, and playful.” Before establishing her own clothing label, she worked as a womenswear designer at YEEZY, where Kanye West ultimately provided her with seed funding and support to launch Maisie Wilen.

Image Courtesy of Maisie Wilen/CFDA

“The 2021 CFDA Fashion Awards mark the much-anticipated in-person return to our biggest fundraiser for CFDA’s scholarship programs,” Steven Kolb, the CFDA CEO, said. “We’re also incredibly pleased to see several talented names among the nominees for the first time. American fashion is experiencing a renewed energy, and these designers play a significant role in the future trajectory of our industry.”

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