Melissa Mercedes Named Winner of Cultivate Award for BIPOC Designers in Plus-Size Fashion

Melissa Mercedes Spring/Summer 2020 Campaign. Melissa Mercedes.

Mercedes, a self-taught designer whose creations have been worn by Tyra Banks and Laverne Cox, receives a $10,000 grant, a year of professional mentorship and the opportunity to launch a capsule collection with plus-size womenswear site Eloquii next year. She will also have access to training and support from digital marketing agency MTO and a session on brand protection strategy from The Influencer Attorney.

Judges also named Atlanta-based designer A’Shontay Hubbard, founder of Christian Omeshun, and Courtney Smith, of New York label Courtney Noelle, as runners-up, with Hubbard also receiving the “voter’s choice” award. Both will receive scholarship grants totalling $3,500, a session on brand protection strategy with The Influencer Attorney and an additional $1,000 cash prize for Hubbard.

Launched earlier this year by Eloquii and lifestyle blog The Curvy Fashionista, The Cultivate Awards were open to emerging independent BIPOC designers who have made clothes size 14 and up part of their offering for at least two years. The panel of judges included Lindsay Peoples Wagner, editor in chief of The Cut, celebrity stylist Timothy Snell, plus-size model and Liris Crosse and Eloquii design director Yesenia Torres.