CFDA, Accenture Nurture Next Generation of Designers, Retailers

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CFDA, Accenture Nurture Next Generation of Designers, Retailers

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and Accenture have formed an innovative collaboration to help shape how the fashion industry integrates technology and consumer insights into its business practices.

Combining the high caliber of creativity within CFDA's membership with Accenture's deep expertise in customer experience, strategy, insights and technology, the two organizations will create talent-development programs for today's designers and tomorrow's retailers.

In addition, Accenture and CFDA will develop a series of thought leadership articles and hypotheses on the future of the fashion customer experience and test these ideas in live pilots with CFDA members. This will provide CFDA with a new method to deliver value and insights to its members and, using the insight and feedback, help Accenture create solutions that it can share with its clients.

Last year, the CFDA launched Retail Lab with Cadillac to help emerging talent make their foray into the retail world, with Retail Lab's first physical store at Cadillac House, in New York. The program enables select designers to open a retail installation for three months and learn skills integral to succeed in the industry, under the mentorship of fashion industry experts.

As the first Official Innovation Partner of CFDA's Retail Lab, Accenture will work closely with the Lab's select group of emerging fashion designers to develop customized retail strategies and equip them with the critical business knowledge and digital skills required to stay competitive in today's challenging retail market.

"CFDA's new collaboration with Accenture will provide our design community with an invaluable resource to help navigate retail and business technology," said Ashley-Brooke Sandall, CFDA's director of strategic partnerships.

The collaboration will be supported by Fjord, the design and innovation unit of Accenture Interactive and Accenture Labs, which prototypes and pilots new concepts through applied R&D projects. Plans include inviting fashion designers to participate in Fjord's design studio in New York and leveraging technologies such as artificial intelligence and mixed and virtual reality from Accenture Labs to bring customer engagement to the next level. Combined with CFDA+ – CFDA's virtual talent lab – these initiatives will connect designers with Accenture's design & innovation capability. Select designers will engage with a design challenge that extends their academic work in a fast-paced design-intensive program. Outcomes range from enhanced research to physical prototypes, with the benefit of collaboration and input from Accenture.

CFDA+ combines CFDA membership and its Educational Initiatives communities, striving to strengthen the transition between education and industry. Established to address the challenges that graduates often face as they embark on their professional careers, CFDA+ is also a service for the more than 500 CFDA members who are recruiting from a talent pool of thousands of graduates each year.  With the addition of Accenture, CFDA+ will now be able to add critical business and design-thinking methodologies to its mentorship curriculum.

"The CFDA represents the fabric of the fashion industry and has been instrumental in giving emerging talent a series of platforms to gain real-world business and retail experience," said Jill Standish, senior managing director of retail at Accenture. "Working together with such a prestigious organization, we can help these designers acquire the highly sought-after digital skills needed for them to be at the forefront of industry innovation, grow their businesses and drive tangible business results."