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Detroit businesses announce winners of first community-driven fashion grant

By Jackie Mallon


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Fashion |Interview

Rough-Draft, winners of Eugenie Fashion Grant Credits: Nate Sturley

After a two-round selection process, a jury consisting of industry leaders presented Rough-Draft founder Timothy Clark and independent filmmaker Jofre Beltran with 10,000 dollars each to pursue a proposed project leveraging sustainability and social impact in Detroit.

The grant was established by fashion boutique Eugenie and Rathaus Films to support local artists, designers and filmmakers committed to environmental responsibility and social impact. The aim is to empower the winners to make a lasting impact in their respective industries, bringing their visions to fruition while driving positive creative and sustainable change in the community.

In addition to the financial award, both winners will receive one-on-one mentorship sessions with panel members who are experts in their respective fields. Clark will also have the opportunity to showcase the completed project through an event hosted at Eugenie, and Beltran will be able to present his final film, “City, No Motor,” an anthology film inspired by Detroit and those who navigate the city without a car, at a local screening event hosted by Rathaus. 

Interior of Detroit store Eugenie Credits: Eugenie.com

Eugenie, located in the heart of Detroit’s historic West Village neighborhood, is an elevated destination for sustainable fashion, founded in 2020 by Gretchen R.Valade and Kevin Steen, the co-founder of Rathaus. FashionUnited spoke to Valade about the judging process behind the inaugural grant initiative.

What stood out about Rough-Draft that made them the winner?

The panel loved that the brand was all about functionality and versatility in their products and activating people and their connection to nature. We also felt that the design was fresh but familiar (in the best way possible) - not overdesigned, with clean lines and modern silhouettes. It felt like the brand and products within the assortment would have longevity in people’s closets. The focus on collaborating with the Detroit community was also key, along with a focus on considered and more environmentally friendly materials with USA production. 

Looks from Rough-Draft's grant-winning proposal Credits: Nate Sturley

Was the decision unanimous?

It was a tough decision as there were 55 applicants for the Eugenie designer grant and all of the 6 finalists had such great projects and presentations. But ultimately the panel was able to make a unanimous decision on choosing Rough-Draft as the winner.

Did you notice any themes, trends or common interests in the submissions for the fashion grant category?

With all of the applicants the biggest trend to call out was upcycling and reimagining existing products, which aligns with the themes of circularity and keeping existing products and materials in use, something I am seeing in the greater sustainable fashion world. There was also a focus on working closely with the Detroit community and local resources - a focus on social impact and uplifting the local fashion and design scene.

Will the grant continue next year?

We are happy to say that the grant will continue next year! We learned a lot this first year doing it, so there may be some adjustments, and we will alter the timing of the grant to open earlier in the fall to give some distance to the holidays.

Detroit fashion