The 15% Pledge Gala Returns with Black Tie, Black Designer Dress Code

With its black tie, Black designer dress code, the 2nd annual benefit gala celebrated the work of Black creatives and entrepreneurs across industries.

Innovators and industry leaders across fashion, beauty, retail, entertainment, and design came together for the 2nd annual Fifteen Percent Pledge Gala on Feb. 4. The event, held by the organization’s founder Aurora James, took place at The New York Public Library, and celebrated the progress made by The Fifteen Percent Pledge since its founding. 

Started in June 2020, the Pledge is a racial equity and economic justice non-profit advocacy organization urging major retailers and corporations to commit 15% of their purchasing power to support Black-owned businesses. 

Anok Yai

While the gala was a celebration of all the incredible work that has been done to minimize the racial wealth gap that persists in our economy, the evening also highlighted the work that remains to eventually close this gap. 

The Pledge’s first-ever Achievement Award – a $200,000 grant presented by Shop by Google –  was handed out to 54 Thrones, a botanical African skincare brand, while finalists Sergio Hudson and Puzzle of Color were awarded grants of $35,000 and $20,000, respectively. Two additional surprise awards were also given out. The first recipient, Busayo, was voted for by the gala attendees, and the second, presented to Hyper Skin, was on behalf of a donation by designer Brandon Blackwood.

Bethann Hardison

Supermodel and activist Bethann Hardison was honored with the Pioneer Award for her longstanding commitment to diversity and activism in the fashion industry. Hardison is established as one of the first high-profile Black models after walking at the Battle of Versailles fashion show in 1973. Since retiring from modeling in the 80s, the pioneer has worked tirelessly to promote diversity across runways and in editorial pages, calling out designers and brands on their racism. 

Phillip Evelyn

The awards themselves were each created by Jameel Mohammed of KHIRY Studio in Brooklyn. The series that was given out at the gala is entitled “All Together Now” and is made from hand-built black stoneware clay with hand-applied gold leaf.

Sophia Roe, James Beard Award-winning chef, served both as the culinary creative director and a host committee member for the Fifteen Percent Pledge Gala, carefully curating the evening’s menu.

Jordan Daniels, Alioune Badara Fall

The gala was made possible through generous support from Shop by Google and Instagram.

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