Fashion Forward Initative

Industry Fund Partner

How do you ensure that New York City remains at the forefront of the global fashion economy? One strategy being implemented by the NYC Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC), the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), and the Center for Youth Employment (CYE) is to build and cultivate a local, thriving talent pipeline. The three organizations have combined efforts to introduce a wide array of programs intended to introduce NYC’s youth to the fashion sector and create pathways for local employment within the industry.

One of these platforms is Ladders for Leaders, a program run by the Department of Youth and Community Development and supported by the Center for Youth Employment, connecting NYC fashion companies of all sizes to local, high-achieving high school and college students.

“Programs like Ladders for Leaders provide students with the valuable experience they need to professionally develop and grow their network,” says James Patchett, President of NYCEDC. “NYCEDC is proud to partner with the NYC Mayor’s Fund, NYC Department of Youth and Community Development, and the Council of Fashion Designers of America on this unique initiative and we look forward to seeing the success that is sure to come.”

Ladders interns are NYC’s best and brightest students, with at least a 3.0 grade point average and prior work experience. Candidates are selected after a rigorous application process, receive up to 30 hours of pre-employment training and are guaranteed a minimum of 25 hours of work for at least six weeks during the summer.

Maison de Mode, a hybrid luxury ethical fashion retail startup, is participating in the Ladders program for the second time this year. Co-Founder Hassan Pierre describes the value his company realizes, “We were first introduced to the program by the CFDA whom we had partnered with on their Lexus/ CFDA+ Ethical Fashion Initiative. Being that we are a start-up, interns are as crucial to us as our paid employees. The idea of having vetted candidates has made the program much more appealing than the traditional intern approach.”

Asked about the broader workforce developments goals of Maison de Mode, Hassan replies, “Diversity is on the top of our list. We live in a global world and cater to a global customer. Ideally, if my team is as diverse as the world, we will have a much better understanding of our customer’s needs and ways to successfully cater to those needs. Ladders helps us find candidates that reflect this diversity of thought.”

Ladders for Leaders will accept employer applications into mid-June of this year and more than 8,000 students have already applied.