Inside Lululemon Lab in lower Manhattan’s Bond Street, two panels of judges pore over the projects of the six finalists in the Joe’s Blackbook 2018 scholarship contest. They are shielded by screens from the prying eyes of the mingling guests in the front of the store who nibble bites catered by neighboring Il Buco, and sip tequila and rosé. The womenswear judging team is comprised of Anne Kathrin Rohr from Calvin Klein 205W39NYC, Carol Song of Opening Ceremony, Bryn Taubensee & Claire Sully from label Vaquera, and Joyce Lee of Madewell. The menswear panel consists of Lululemon’s Ben Stubbington, the design duo behind Abasi Rosborough, Martin Andersson from Theory, designers Tim Coppens, and Siki Im, and John Caruso of GAP. This is the eighth year of the Joe's Blackbook Scholarship, which has so far been responsible for giving out over $150,000 in scholarships. Abercrombie & Fitch donated $10,000 for one of this year’s prizes, and American Eagle, Urban Outfitters, Ralph Lauren, Gap and Victoria’s Secret contributed to the second.
The DJ continues to ensure a lively atmosphere out front while the behind-the-scenes deliberations intensify. Initial submissions were shipped from fashion schools across the nation in March for the initial round of judging. From dozens of submissions, this evening’s six finalists were selected and invited to NYC. Joe Medved, the scholarship founder and industry veteran, tells FashionUnited, "The standard this year is the highest yet, and all schools seem to have upped their game." Notably, in the finalist line-up, two institutions, Otis and FIT, occupy multiple positions.
The three womenswear finalists are Shirley Park from Otis, Nicole Lee from Parsons and June Ryu from FIT. Menswear finalists are Junhyung Seo from FIT, and Jonathan Levite and Youngsun Park, both from Otis. Finally the verdict is reached in both categories, and Medved climbs up onto the counter of the bar with a microphone to deliver the news.
The Womenswear prize of $10,000 goes to Shirley Park from Otis while the Fashion Institute of Technology’s Junhyung Seo claims the menswear prize. As the checks are presented to the overwhelmed young designers, the music swells again, and the scholarship wraps up for another year.
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.
Photos by Nick Steever