The First Ever African American Footwear Forum

Share this page

The First Ever African American Footwear Forum

Categories: In The News, Pensole, Two Ten News

The first ever African American Footwear Forum (AAFF) took place last week in Washington D.C. The Forum brought together African American talent from across the footwear industry in a way no previous event has. It also helped close out Black History Month 2019 at a time when questions surrounding diversity and opportunity are at the forefront of the national mindset. Two Ten is thrilled to be a sponsor and partner of the Forum and we’re grateful to have taken part in such a historic moment for the footwear industry.

Matt Priest, FDRA, D'Wayne Edwards, PENSOLE
Pictured: Left – Matt Priest of FDRA, Right – D’Wayne Edwards of PENSOLE. The Founders of the event.

D’Wayne Edwards, the founder of PENSOLE Footwear Design Academy and sponsor of the event, identified diversity in the footwear industry as his next large initiative. D’Wayne has been discussing this topic and working to promote diversity in the industry for years, starting PENSOLE as a way to give aspiring designers of all backgrounds a chance to break into the industry.  D’Wayne calls out the story of Jan Ernst Matzeliger, who “revolutionized the footwear industry with his patent for an automated shoe-laster,” as an example of how underappreciated the contributions of black men and women have been within the industry.  Mr. Matzeliger and his invention were largely ignored until 1991 when he received a stamp honoring him and his work.

The Forum’s other main sponsor, FDRA, also discussed diversity throughout the industry with D’Wayne and others. Last year’s second annual Sneaker Week included discussions around not only racial diversity in the footwear industry but also how to ensure gender diversity. Throughout February, FDRA’s podcast brought in leaders within the industry to discuss these topics even further.

One of the panel discussions during the event.

This partnership between FDRA and PENSOLE, and the discussions happening because of it, culminated in the AAFF last week. The Forum took place at Howard University in Washington D.C. with the stated goal to “enhance access, education, and awareness for African Americans who are seeking opportunities to influence, lead, and impact the global footwear industry and consumer culture.”  In attendance were a variety of footwear brands, passionate industry professionals, representatives from historically black colleges and universities, athletes, entrepreneurs, and influencers.  The Forum featured two days of events exploring and celebrating how diversity drives innovation and creativity drives global competitiveness. Sessions of note include, career panels, networking events, and discussions around solutions to bridging the gaps across the industry.

The Forum sparked a wave of enthusiasm around the industry surrounding this topic. Media outlets, like Footwear News, are also helping to spread the message. In addition, Nicekicks.com has partnered with D’Wayne and PENSOLE to highlight some of the best up-and-coming talent in the industry with their Future 50 campaign.

Two Ten is thrilled to be part of this growing and important conversation and looks forward to more opportunities to improve the lives and careers of ALL members of the footwear industry.

Photos from the African American Footwear Forum


More News Stories

Mariah’s Story

Friday, March 15, 2019

Mariah was one of two recipients of the Bruce Fendell Scholarship. She tells her story at our Gala, and Rachel Fendell Satinsky, Bruce’s daughter, describes what this scholarship means to her family.

The First Ever African American Footwear Forum

Friday, March 1, 2019

The first ever African American Footwear Forum (AAFF) took place last week in Washington D.C. The Forum brought together African American talent from across the footwear industry in a way no previous event has. It also helped close out Black History Month 2019 at a time when questions surrounding diversity and opportunity are at the … Read More

Exciting Changes Coming to the Two Ten WIFI Mentoring Program!

Thursday, February 28, 2019

We are pleased to announce some exciting improvements to the WIFI Mentoring Program for the 2019 calendar year. If you haven’t had the opportunity to be involved in the mentoring program – now is the time! We are evolving the program with a new, online platform that will include a mobile mentorship experience to keep … Read More

Winter Walk Highlights Homelessness & Kicks Off Two Ten Day Celebrations

Monday, February 11, 2019

Our Two Ten team joined thousands of people bundled up to walk through the streets of Boston Sunday morning with a mission to help end homelessness during the third annual Winter Walk.  The walk takes place in February to demonstrate the hardships that homeless individuals face during the winter.  The event organizers wanted to raise … Read More

Regina

Friday, February 1, 2019

When Hurricane Irma hit, Regina’s family moved in and she couldn’t pay for the roof over their heads.  Reaching out to Two Ten for help was the best decision she could have made. Apply for Assistance