Elliot Carlyle is the silent force opening doors and pushing Black designers in a major way.
As Creative Consultant for the Council of Fashion Designers (CFDA), formally run by Tom Ford, and founder of the Here We Are program, he has found a way to use his skill set and influence for the good of Black creators in the fashion industry.
Carlyle understands the importance of needing to be seen, heard and having your passion acknowledged. He also recognizes the importance of having resources, access and support to help cultivate that passion and wants to assist in any way he can.
“I’m just honored and excited to help them grow and be recognized as the power players they are. They’re extremely passionate leaders. And we understand this as people of color. We get that when you’re building without resources, access and support, all you have is passion to go on.”
How Elliot Carlyle Is Helping Black Designers
Carlyle made it his mission to find and shine a light on talented Black designers that are often overlooked, long before it was popular to do so.
Carlyle’s Here We Are program introduced many Black Designers to New York City Jewelry Week. In 2019, he spearheaded the Here We Are program to address the lack of representation and widespread inequity in the jewelry industry. Here We Are focuses on highlighting creators and “building industry awareness around issues of diversity, inclusion, equity, representation, and allyship.”
Over the years, Carlyle has also had his hand in a number of regional fashion weeks. He has utilized this experience to build the CFDA Connects program to shine a light on the talents of the smaller regions, to create unity within the fashion world and to provide much needed resources to designers. CFDA Connects provides access to education through workshops and professional development programming, covering topics such as partnerships, sponsorships and fashion law.
The pieces really started falling into place after the Indiana Fashion Foundation, an organization he helped to start, had their first event.
“Those were the moments that really came together to show me what some of the pain points were…I also worked in Charleston Fashion Week. I used to represent Atlanta International Fashion Week. Northern Virginia Fashion Week has been one of my clients. I know the team from St. Louis Fashion Week and Philly Fashion Week. I’ve had a lot of engagements with regional fashion weeks and coming from a regional market myself, I know what it’s like to build without resources and access.”
In addition to putting a spotlight on the gorgeous Black designs that had previously been ignored and providing much needed education, Carlyle also mentors many Black designers in the fashion industry.
How Carlyle’s Here We Are Has Shaped the Industry
Since founding Here We Are, Elliot Carlyle has been the go-to man to assist others build their diversity programs. Calls picked up post-George Floyd’s murder and in 2020 the CFDA reached out to discuss their Impact Program. Shortly thereafter he received another big call. “The National Diamond Council had reached out to me. They were building a program with Lorraine Schwartz to create what is known as the Emerging Designers Diamond Initiative, which we call EDDI. It’s a $1M diamond credit that they give to Black and Brown jewelers. And each of them get $20,000 in diamonds to do a fine metals jewelry collection.”
Carlyle has worked with everyone from The National Diamond Council and Lorraine Schwartz, to De Beers and their Radiance by Couture program which provided once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for diverse designers. In November 2022, he partnered with Muzo Emerald Colombia to showcase at New York City Jewelry Week, featuring a collection with 9 Black and Brown designers.
Carlyle is thrilled to see some of his Here We Are program participants in the new cohorts he’s helping with and loves that his program has been able to be a catalyst for much-needed change in the industry.
“Here We Are is like a discovery channel. These are things that would not have existed if Here We Are did not happen …these are groundbreaking moments. What Muzo is doing has never been done before. All of them were able to look back at the Here We Are program and say ‘How did you guys do this?’ and ‘Who did you work with?’ So, it made sense for them to talk to me. During the pandemic, I talked to every jewelry organization there was from WJA to National Jeweler Publication about what can be done and problems that can be solved. I love building platforms that give other people a voice.”
How Elliot Carlyle Got Started in the Industry
Volunteering at New York Fashion Week gave Carlyle the foot in the door that he needed.
“It became the catalyst to this portal of everything that could be in fashion. I was able to see so many moving parts.” The part that resonated most with him though was the PR side of things. He became a freelance publicist and event coordinator while also taking on a number of odd jobs that shaped him for his next move. Those odd jobs you ask? Oh, just being an executive assistant, working briefly at a real estate company and working for a year as Creative Director for THEE Gladys Knight.
Carlyle eventually secured a role as assistant to Fern Mallis, the creator of New York Fashion Week. “I was hired as her assistant, but really was her assistant, publicist, the production coordinator, I mean I was everything, which I really liked. And I eventually also ended up doing her bookings and management stuff.” He recalled.
Beyond all of Carlyle’s CFDA affiliation and influence in the fashion scene, people are really drawn to his optimistic personality, passion for change and can-do attitude. You can find Elliot Carlyle at his website CurrentlyGlobal.com or on Instagram @elliotcarlyle