VF Corporation Teams Up with the Black Talent in Design & Fashion Fund

Interview with Alicia Pinckney and Laetitia Tierny

VF Corporation in EMEA has partnered with the Black Talent in Design & Fashion Fund to support Black students entering the fashion and footwear industry through internships, work placements and mentorship in the EMEA area.

In this interview, Alicia Pinckney and Laetitia Tierny tell us more about the collaboration and its aims.

Can you introduce yourself and tell us about your job?

Alicia: I’m a Senior Apparel Designer based in the US. I spent four years of my design career designing at Timberland in the VF EMEA HQ Switzerland. During my time in Switzerland, I founded the Black Talent in Design & Fashion Fund, a non-profit dedicated to supporting Black students.

Laetitia: I’m the Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Action Lead for VF Corporation in EMEA. In my role, I’m seeking to make the work environment more inclusive, enabling everyone to feel valued, seen, listened and recognised so they can be their true, best selves at work.

What does the Black Talent Fund do? 

Alicia: The Black Talent in Design & Fashion Fund supports Black students on their journey to entering the fashion and footwear industry. 

Since its foundation in 2020, the Black Talent Fund has awarded scholarships to 39 students across the US. We will be awarding another round of scholars this year! In addition to financial support via scholarships, we also provide internship placements and mentorship from industry insiders.

What motivated you to start the Black Talent Fund? 

Alicia: As we know, the fashion and footwear industry is extremely underrepresented. As a Black woman in this industry for over 12 years, I’ve experienced the lack of diversity throughout the industry. As an advocate for change and growth, I created the non-profit to address these issues by supporting students to navigate the industry. 

Black culture serves as the blueprint of fashion and culture, yet there aren’t many of us working on the product or in leadership positions. My non-profit serves as a step to progressing positively by cultivating the next pipeline of talent. 

Why does the Black Talent Fund want to collaborate with VF and vice versa?

Alicia: Many people think the lack of Black representation is just an American problem, but it’s a global issue, as we’ve seen globally during the pandemic. VF has a big presence in EMEA, so this collaboration will help the Black Talent Fund reach more Black students worldwide. The pandemic showed us how fluid the world is, so expanding this initiative beyond the US seems like a natural next step!

Laetitia: We’re trying to create a more inclusive and diverse culture at VF. We not only want to promote diversity and inclusion internally, but we also want to inspire other companies and people to do the same.

What exactly is VF doing with the Black Talent Fund? 

Laetitia: VF will fund scholarships through the Black Talent Fund and offer mentorship opportunities. We’re excited to connect with students as prospective interns or future associates! 

Alicia: We also look forward to adding some VF professionals and leaders to our Black Talent Fund mentors directory!

What else is VF doing with its inclusion and diversity efforts?

Laetitia: We firmly believe that a diverse workforce enhances innovation and creativity and strengthens our ability to understand and serve our diverse consumer base effectively. Our efforts to promote diversity and inclusion are multifaceted, encompassing various initiatives and programs designed to cultivate an inclusive work environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and empowered. 

We’re also looking at how we can improve our diversity demographics, particularly at the leadership level. Our partnership with the Black Talent Fund is an exciting step for us to connect with future talent and make opportunities more accessible to diverse candidates! 

What does the future look like for the Black Talent Fund?

Alicia: Through our partnership with VF, we will soon launch our Black Talent Fund scholarship programme in EMEA.

I started the Black Talent Fund during the pandemic, so helping students feel connected from afar is important. This year, we’re planning our first in-person event at the Empire State Building in NYC via one of our sponsors at Centric Brands, where students will have a full day speaking with and learning from Directors in design, product and merchandising. 

We hope to plan a gala where our sponsors and student scholars can meet and network one day. That’s our next goal for the future – we would love to see this come to life! 

Laetitia: We’re excited to continue working with the Black Talent Fund! Our HR and talent acquisition team has connections with universities across EMEA, which will help us reach students for the scholarship and mentorship programmes. We would love to see these students pursue careers at VF someday! 

Are you interested in becoming a Black Talent Fund EMEA scholar?
Apply now here!

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