SEASON ZERO DESIGN CONTEST WINNERS
Connor McKnight is a fashion brand based in Brooklyn, NY established in the first global pandemic since 1918. While in solitude, he designed, cut and sewed his first collection in his bedroom, reconnecting with his work despite unemployment, the pandemic, and social unrest in the black community. Informed by his roots in the Washington D.C. metropolitan area, where vintage outdoor gear reigns supreme amongst black youth, Connor McKnight aims to refine, and reimagine these ideas. His designs represent a continuation of narratives of a beautifully mundane childhood as a black person of color, and his experiences living in New York for the past 9 years. In a society that continually struggles to recognize nuance within the black community, he hopes to convey just one of an infinite number of possibilities of what we could be, and inspire others alike to do the same.
K.NGSLEY is a Black-owned brand birthed from the vibrancy and community of activism and the club scene. The brand exists to serve the Black, Queer, Femme and Trans community, using fashion as a lightning rod to not just reclaim the meaning of their bodies, but also to raise resources to lift up and empower people and groups through community organizing and direct support. K.NGSLEY’s first collection of playful tanks, titled Collection 0: BQ Essentials, is made to celebrate the Butch Queen (BQ) in all of us, while making and holding space for the Black, Queer, and Femme body in today’s society. Kingsley Gbadegesin, the founder of K.NGSLEY and collection creator, said: “This collection—made for the girls, by the girls—is an active redefinition of what it means to exist as Black, and Queer, and Femme all at once. Channeling the power of our community through the power of fashion, we are creating space and building a community for those who have been pushed to the margins of the society and culture they’ve long influenced and inspired.” Kingsley Gbadegesin is a first-generation Nigerian-American and a New York-based creator working to advance liberation for the Black community, the Queer community, and people of color. Build- ing on his years of experience working for the likes of Versace, Celine, and Loewe, he’s the founder and creator behind K.NGSLEY—a Black-owned brand aiming to reclaim and redefine the Black, Queer, Femme body and to create the tangible, direct support communities need today. Kingsley, age 27, is actively involved in the Ballroom community and Black Lives Matter movement, including through On The Ground—a grassroots organization started by Black Queers that has organized candlelight vigils, worked to aid and sustain protesters during recent demonstrations, and held space for the Black, Femme, and Trans women who continue to be murdered at alarming rates. Through his activism and K.NGSLEY, he aims to contribute to building a country, culture, and future that uplifts and does justice to the people that built the United States and its culture in the first place.
HOUSE OF AAMA
House of Aama is a boutique lifestyle clothing brand based in Los Angeles, California and Brooklyn, New York. The brand was founded by myself, Akua Shabaka while I was in high school in Los Angeles. The brand is managed by myself and my mother, Rebecca Henry. I am a recent 2019 graduate from Parsons The New School for Design in Manhattan, New York with a BBA degree in Strategic Design and Business Management. Rebecca is an attorney in private practice by trade and a craftswoman by night. We are 100% self funded, minority owned and women operated. We started the company due to our collective interest in the cultural retention of storytelling, transference of storytelling narratives in the family context and the reclamation of these narratives within the black community. We are particularly interested in how these narratives are expressed communally, spiritually and in the present time. What do we do? House of Aama explores the folkways of the Black experience by designing timeless garments with nostalgic references informed by historical research, archival analysis, and storytelling. We aim to evoke dialogue, social commentary and conversations around heritage, remembrance and to shed light on nuanced histories. Our latest collection BLOODROOT was inspired by our family’s maternal lineage in Louisiana. The collection “Bloodroot” is inspired by the rare herb bloodroot which has been used by old-time conjures and root workers as a powerful Guardian for the Family. House of Aama’s AW '17/18 BLOODROOT collection is an ode to Southern Creole spiritually and African Roots. Hidden in plain sight. These are the tales of a Rootworker, Southern Lady and Bluesman. We have been blessed to receive coverage from all major publications including Vogue, Elle Brasil, i-D/Vice, Okay Africa and Fashionista to name a few and coverage of our February 2018 NYFW presentation from Paper Mag and Fader, where we built the space and brought the story to life behind the BLOODROOT collection. In December 2018, we were offered the opportunity to participate in an art residency in New Orleans funded by the MONA Museum where we built an installation inspired by the BLOODROOT collection’s rising themes. In 2019, House of Aama chose to not present a new clothing collection but instead focused on gathering archival data and field research to enhance our storytelling which forms the basis for our clothing collections. In the summer of 2019, we traveled to Jamaica and collected personal narratives as part of our storytelling gathering. In addition, we have previously traveled to Cuba, Louisiana and Senegal to conduct research and archive personal narratives. In furtherance of our storytelling interests, we launched an online platform for our social media guests to share narratives from their personal family histories. These narratives included favorite familial narratives, folktales, quotes and sayings. House of Aama is now developing a new women and men’s wear collection based on the archival research we have conducted to launch in the first quarter of 2021. Our focus for this collection will center on the Black experience and folk narratives. We are sourcing new production options in Los Angeles as well as new fabrics and textiles. Our website has proven to be an effective direct to consumer sales mechanism and we will continue this model. As mentioned above, we are 100% self-funded and essentially a two-person operation and any assistance we receive to support our brand will be appreciated and put to good use.
CONTEST DETAILS [NOW CLOSED]
We've partnered with the Black in Fashion Council, an organization dedicated to securing the advancement of people of color within the industry, to launch the Season Zero design contest. This is a nationwide contest for early stage designers and artisans in an effort to provide a platform for unestablished members of the fashion and creative industries.
- The grand prize winner will receive a $10,000 + coveted pop-up showcasing the designer’s work at Fred Segal + prestigious mentorship opportunity
- The second and third place runner ups will receive $5,000
To be considered, applicants must meet the following criteria
- Be an emerging designer or artisan within the fashion and creative industries without a current brick and mortar or retail footprint.
- Submit 10-15 digital files of personal designs (of which you own the rights to).
- Provide a bio, vision for your brand and video (optional)