Vogue and the CFDA is opening up the process behind the Fashion Fund with a new online documentary series.
The series, which went live Friday on Vogue.com and the CFDA’s website, lets viewers in on the entire competition, which involves 10 emerging designers being chosen by a judging and mentoring panel of ten fashion industry leaders, including Vogue editor Anna Wintour and fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg. Produced by Conde Nast Entertainment, in association with video production company Mustache, the videos, which are all under ten minutes long, follow the entire five-month competition.
The competition has been documented in the past, but was only available in a formats made for TV. Never before has it been filmed with a digital audience in mind, or published on Vogue.com or CFDA’s website.
“We felt a fast-paced, short delivery was the best way to capture our audience watching,” said CFDA CEO Steven Kolb, who was also on the judging panel. “We imagine people will be watching it on their ipads, iphones, and other devices, and may be sneaking it in [while at] their offices, on their computers.”
In the first episode, Vogue’s accessories director Selby Drummond playfully introduces the series in Vogue’s entryway and walks the viewer through the magazine’s offices to a boardroom where the judging panel is deliberating on who the ten finalists will be. As a viewer, it feels like you’re a part of the discussion between Wintour, von Furstenberg, and the other judges—which include Jenna Lyons, creative director and president of J.Crew, and Andrew Rosen, CEO of Theory.
The second episode reveals the ten finalists presenting their designs to the judges. Other episodes highlight the Intel challenge, where contestants were required to design clothing or shoes that connect with phones and the internet, and an Instagram design challenge, where they had to create an image inspired by a movie that resonates with their brand. The final episode covers the announcement of the winner, Brock Collection, which just happened earlier this month.
The Fashion Fund, launched in 2003, was started to help emerging designers develop their labels and businesses in every aspect, from marketing and PR to production and sales. This year’s winners, Laura Vassar Brock and Kristopher Brock of Brock Collection, took home the $400,000 prize, which they plan to invest in their label. The two runners-up, Adam Selman, who has a namesake label, and Stirling Barrett of New Orleans–based Krewe du Optic, both won $150,000. Past Fashion Fund contestants have included Alexander Wang and Tanya Taylor.
“We encouraged everyone involved to acknowledge our presence [in order] to give the viewer a more immersive experience.” CNE executive producer Nickolas James said in a statement.
The decision to go digital-first plays into the wider shift of the democratization of fashion. Through social media and online video, an audience interested in fashion now has access to behind-the-scenes moments at fashion shows, as well as to designers’ creative processes and social lives.
Kolb said democratization plays a part, but also noted that a lot of television programs are more focused on the drama that unfolds in a fashion competition, rather than the process itself—which is why, he said, this short-form web series is different.
“It shows Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Wintour and Jenna Lyons having an intimate conversation about the talent in the program, and that’s not something people get to see. We’re opening up the boardroom doors and letting people be a part of that.” Kolb said.
Photos via Getty Images.