Abercrombie & Fitch, the renowned casual sportswear brand headquartered in the Midwest, is taking a stylish leap with an exciting partnership featuring Harlem’s Fashion Row. This unique collaboration introduces the creative talents of designer Nicole Benefield, who is celebrated for her participation in Harlem’s Fashion Row—a platform known for promoting designers of color and fostering innovation in brand strategy, new media, experiential marketing, and collaborative ventures.

To celebrate this groundbreaking collaboration, a festive event was held in Chelsea, where FashionNetwork.com had the privilege of speaking with key figures behind this exciting project. The much-anticipated collection resulting from this collaboration is set to debut on October 4 at an exclusive launch event in New York.

Carey Collins Krug, Abercrombie & Fitch’s Chief Marketing Officer, expressed her enthusiasm about the collaboration, stating, «Our initial engagement with Harlem’s Fashion Row centered around corporate initiatives and panel discussions. However, Brandice Daniel, a driving force behind this remarkable organization, inspired us to embark on a more substantial project.»

This concept was born approximately a year ago, with no rigid timelines in mind. Abercrombie & Fitch had the opportunity to explore a roster of designers who participated in the 2022 Harlem’s Fashion Row fashion show—an annual event that showcases emerging talents in New York. Among the standout designers was Nicole Benefield.

«We aimed for a natural fit. When our merchandising and design teams were introduced to Nicole’s creations, they were instantly captivated,» Collins Krug continued. This collaboration represents a first for Abercrombie & Fitch, as it transcends previous efforts involving edits, curation, or iterations of existing merchandise in partnership with influencers or public figures.

Nicole Benefield emerged as the ideal collaborator for multiple reasons. Describing her eponymous brand as «casual sophistication,» Benefield felt an immediate synergy with the project.

«When I saw the direction they were taking, it resonated with my weekend wear style. I understand their brand and their customer—I am their customer. While my brand leans more towards sophistication than weekend wear, there’s a shared brand DNA in terms of how we want our customers to feel. We found the common ground between their offerings and mine. For instance, we took the cargo pant—a timeless silhouette—and integrated it into my neutral color palette,» explained Benefield.

The resulting collection comprises 25 styles for both men and women, thoughtfully priced between $40 and $200. The color palette offers versatility, featuring shades of grey khaki, grey, black, and terracotta. Shoppers can explore this exclusive collection in over 200 retail locations across the United States and North America, select stores in the UK, Europe, the Middle East, and on Abercrombie.com. Nicole Benefield’s extensive experience with mass-distributed brands, including Ann Taylor Loft, The Limited, and Banana Republic, further enhances this partnership.

This collaboration also marks a design milestone for Nicole Benefield, who has predominantly focused on women’s fashion in her career.

«I naturally lean towards a more masculine aesthetic, so transitioning to men’s fashion felt effortless. I explored men’s fashion during my academic years, so I wasn’t apprehensive. I often draw inspiration from men’s fashion and admire its diverse color palette,» she confessed.

Benefield worked closely with both the men’s and women’s heads of design to create a cohesive style that resonates across both lines.

«Cargo pants are poised for a resurgence, making them a focal point of the collection,» she emphasized. The collection also includes a unisex bomber jacket, knitwear, utility jackets, and signature buttons.

For Nicole Benefield, this partnership represents a significant opportunity to expand her brand’s visibility. The collaboration will be promoted through in-store campaigns, online platforms, and social media channels.

Brandice Daniel, CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row, founded the organization 16 years ago with a vision of promoting emerging designers.

«This partnership holds a unique significance as it marks the first collaboration between Nicole, Abercrombie & Fitch, and Harlem’s Fashion Row. We haven’t engaged in many partnerships that reach a global audience,» noted Daniel.

Harlem’s Fashion Row has a distinctive practice of showcasing designers for two consecutive years, allowing for the evolution of brands to be witnessed. Past collaborations have included notable brands like Jimmy Choo X Timberland with designer Shanel Campbell and the Nike LeBron James 16 sneaker, designed in collaboration with three female designers from the incubator: Fe Noel, Undra Celeste, and Kimberly Goldson.

Abercrombie & Fitch is equally enthusiastic about this partnership.

«Our team is deeply passionate about this project and holds Nicole in high regard. Authenticity was paramount in working with Nicole and translating her vision into the Abercrombie aesthetic. We possess expertise in mass-selling, but Nicole brings her unique talents to the table. That’s what defines this collaboration,» summarized Collins Krug.

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