The 2022 Black Footwear Forum (BFF), formerly the African American Footwear Forum (AAFF), is going down this September in Detroit. The gathering aims to address issues of diversity in the world of footwear, and the list of attendees features a who’s who of creatives and talent in the business.
The BFF is scheduled for Friday, September 16 through Sunday, September 18, and will be held at the Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design and in partnership with Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA). If you don’t know, the Lewis College of Business was acquired by Pensole Academy founder and renowned designer D’Wayne Edwards in 2021. As such, it became what’s touted as not only the first reopened HBCU in America (the school was shuttered in 2013), but also the only HBCU in Michigan. Edwards, a former Design Director at Jordan Brand, is the institution’s President.
“Since its first year, the Black Footwear Forum has evolved into a major industry gathering to celebrate, inspire and acknowledge Black creatives globally who are responsible for the culture of our industry,” said Edwards in a statement. “This year it’s happening in the only city in the US designated a UNESCO City of Design—Detroit, Michigan.”
The three-day BFF is free.99 and will assemble sneaker industry execs, designers, influencers—and surely sneakerheads, too—to engage and discuss “the influence, leadership, and passion provided by blacks in the global footwear industry.” Some of the speakers and hosts already slated include James Whitner, owner of streetwear destinations Social Status and A Ma Maniere, Tyrel Kirkham, VP Brand & Marketing Strategy for the Detroit Pistons, and Jazerai Allen-Lord, an acclaimed sneaker designer and strategist. Other scheduled guests include familiar names like designer April Walker and author Scoop Jackson. Some of the BFF’s corporate sponsors include Nike, Foot Locker, Carhartt, Adidas, Ford and StockX.
The BFF festivities actually kick off on Thursday, September 15 with a community activation for Detroit local residents in the form of a PLC footwear design workshop at the PLC | FDRA | BFF Lounge by StockX in downtown Detroit. Open to the public, it will be an opportunity to meet Black design leaders, many who are alumni of Edwards’ famed Pensole Academy.
Look for more info, and register to attend the BFF, at www.blackfootwearforum.com.
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