BY: Jamil Khan
Sade Solomon, United Colors of Fashion (UCOF) Achiever of the Year for 2013 has once again dealt adversity a triumphant blow. She has graduated with a degree in fashion design from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) on Thursday evening. It is evident that she has no intention of resting on her laurels and she is clear that each achievement is only the foundation upon which she can build the next.
Since she started working with UCOF, this former caseworker, has grown into a visionary and a paragon of hope with aims of starting her own business through which she can use fashion and philanthropy to encourage the youth and empower them to fulfill their dreams and passions as she has done. UCOF is proud to be associated with Sade and has kept its promise of assisting her every step of the way to realize her dream of fashion philanthropy that so closely aligns to the mission of UCOF.
In February, this year, Sade designed a number of pieces for the Hope Beyond Horizons exhibition of avant-garde fashion and in March she visited South Africa during Joburg Fashion Week where she worked behind the scenes. She was an intern under South African designers David Tlale and Shaldon Kopman and also world renowned show producer Jan Malan. The many inspirations she received from this trip has given Sade the impetus to launch her first collection on October 9th at the UCOF annual gala. The collection will be presented as an installation. The installation will allow guests to get close to the garments and indulge all their senses while asking Sade questions about her creations and her experience with UCOF. This will precede the international fashion show featuring internationally acclaimed designers who have mentored interns such as Sade.
Sade has been part of UCOF’s fashion education program for the last 3 years. The program is the first of its kind in the United States and it aims to expose talented but under-resourced New York youth to the opportunities within the fashion industry at no charge. The challenge many newly graduated fashion designers face despite being artistically ready, is funding. The fashion education program allows designers like Sade to focus on design without the worry of funding, which is covered completely by sponsors.
UCOF has been working tirelessly to keep getting funded to assist our talented youth with launching their careers in fashion. As a 501 (C)(3) we use 100% of all donations for our programs, which we aim to expand in the next 5 years.
In a recent interview with National Association of Haitian Professionals, Ciano Clerjuste, President of UCOF, revealed his 10-year vision for the organization:
“In ten years, I see myself working full-time only for United Colors Of Fashion and leading the organization to huge success with the help of our awesomely talented team, and assisting emerging designers and HIV infected children in more than five countries. We are currently working on a five-year plan, which is to open the first Center For Fashion in New York. The center will be a state-of- the- art building in midtown Manhattan,” he says.
As fashion students like Sade leave school, their ID’s expire and they forfeit access to the school facilities such as sewing machines, steamers or just a workspace in which to create.
UCOF aims to provide this space at no cost, which will feature:
• Event space to hold runway shows, presentations, mannequin installations and fashion exhibitions
• Showrooms for emerging designers
• Office/studio space for emerging designers who are just graduating from fashion school
• Free sewing classes for low income individuals
• Fashion styling, hair and makeup workshops
• Well equipped work space with all types of industrial machines for emerging designers to use stylish rental studios for casting call/auditions, photo shoot, fitting, filming.
We envisage a chic boutique inside the building where people can purchase custom made clothes by our emerging designers and that will allow us in return to employ back most of the talented interns who have been part of our program upon graduation. This building will be the first space in NY solely dedicated to fashion, open to under resourced youth, the general public, and giving emerging designers a state of the art and well-equipped space to have fashion shows without breaking the bank. Most designers currently go out of business after their first show due to the high cost associated with putting such events together.
UCOF would like to congratulate the amazing Sade Solomon and looks forward to the continued growth she will undergo with us on this journey. We know she will make unprecedented strides and with our help she will change the world through fashion, one step at a time. We also thank her for believing in the mission of UCOF.
Jamil Khan is a Psychology graduate from Stellenbosch University with a keen interest in fashion, social upliftment and research. He is a United Colors Of Fashion press intern and lifestyle writer for The New Age Newspaper, based in Johannesburg, South Africa.