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The CFDA Launches a Program to Give Young Designers (Temporary) Retail Space

CFDA President Diane Von Furstenberg and CEO Steven Kolb. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images
CFDA President Diane Von Furstenberg and CEO Steven Kolb. Photo: Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images

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Though it already operates multiple programs aimed at helping promising young designers get off the ground, the CFDA is launching a new project to further aid on that front: the Retail Lab, which, yes, is all about the retail portion of running a fashion brand.

"When you talk to any designer who's young and you ask them what they want to accomplish and what they want to be, they say two things. They say they want to be a global lifestyle brand, and they say they want their own store," said CFDA CEO Steven Kolb on Tuesday. "Retail Lab is really that, an opportunity for us to give us space to designers... designers that are proven in their success already, and help them understand what it really means for them to have a store."

In the same way that the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund awards industry mentorship to its participants and $400,000 to the winning designer, the Retail Lab will grant one brand at a time three months to use a store space on the ground floor of Cadillac's New York headquarters. That, and $75,000 for wholesale buys, sales staff, and marketing. The one caveat is that the brands involved can't have a freestanding brick-and-mortar retail presence yet.

Why Cadillac? Apparently the automaker, already a sponsor of New York Fashion Week: Men's, wants to deepen its relationship with the fashion business. (Not to mention position itself as a public-spirited corporation that's down with the cool kids.) The CFDA's announcement, in fact, took place at Cadillac HQ, in a sunny, mirrored space overlooking the Hudson River that made everyone in the room look positively glowing, provided they remembered to carry blotting paper with them.

Timo Weiland will be the first brand to open up shop in early July.