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DSW will sell shoes created by young Black designers and made exclusively in a Black-owned factory.

Mar 01 2022

DSW will sell shoes created by young Black designers and made exclusively in a Black-owned factory. According to research from Data USA, only 4.8% of designers are Black. In the shoe industry, there are few Black designer-entrepreneurs who “hold any major stake in [the] industry.” But DSW is starting a new initiative that could change that. Beginning this fall, the shoe retailer is dropping a new line of shoes created by emerging Black designers, with the products made in “the first Black-owned footwear factory in America.” The young designers featured will be from Pensole Academy and Pensole Lewis College, founded by Jordan brand’s former lead designer, D’Wayne Edwards. The schools are free and are subsidized by major footwear brands including Jordan, Nike, Adidas, Versace, and distributors like StockX and Foot Locker. DSW’s parent company DBI is investing $2 million in Pensole, which will allow Edwards to open the factory. After releasing the first run of shoes at DSW, he plans to source new designs from the school’s design students who want to launch their own brands. He also hopes to collaborate with celebrities and Black entrepreneurs. YPulse’s Life Plans, Rewritten trend research found that 70% of 13-39-year-old Black consumers aspire to be an entrepreneur—and according to Edwards: “We want to focus on helping these kids understand there’s more to having a shoe than a design: You need to think through the brand and business. We’re not interested in a singular shoe. We’re interested in people we can get behind to have a business in this industry.” (Fast Company)