Black Footwear Forum Brings Over 500 Footwear Industry Leaders, Professionals to Detroit

The 2022 Black Footwear Forum (BFF), held at Pensole Lewis College of Business & Design (PLC) in partnership with the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America (FDRA), welcomed more than 500 Black footwear industry leaders and aspiring professionals to in Detroit, this past September 16-18.

Called BFF Homecoming 2022, attendees, executives, industry leaders and the community of Detroit gathered for a three-day free event with celebrations, conversations, and networking as BFF continues to highlight, strengthen, and support Black professionals globally in the footwear industry.

“We called this year’s event ‘Homecoming’ because BFF is our moment to come together to reconnect, celebrate, educate, inspire, and just appreciate the Black geniuses who run this industry,” PLC founder and President Dr. D’Wayne Edwards said. “Every year, the BFF grows, not only in attendance but in cultural and industry significance. This year we gathered the most influential group of creatives, leaders, and aspiring future leaders of any conference to date.”­

Among the highlights of BFF Homecoming 2022 were:

Terrance Floyd: 
BFF kicked off with an intimate and powerful conversation with the brother of the late George Floyd.

Free Game: 
A panel hosted by James Whitner, the American fashion entrepreneur, owner of streetwear boutiques Social Status, A Ma Maniere, and A.P.B.; and featuring April Walker, fashion icon, creator, author, educator; along with American sports analyst and former professional basketball player Jalen Rose.
 
Blacklights Awards: 
Presented to selected industry experts, including women’s advocate and sneaker strategist and Jazerai Allen-Lord; retail icon James Whitner; YouTube phenomenon Jacques Slade; community-builder Rick Williams; author and Katalyst Kevin Carroll; industry pioneer and footwear design legend Wilson Smith. 

Sisters in Sole Women’s Brunch: Portia Blount, VP of Apparel for Reebok, and Jazerai Allen-Lord hosted a brunch for 75+ Black women to celebrate the many significant women in the footwear industry.

“Kids Are Ready for Design”:
A Kids Company About hosted a panel discussion for 200+ students at University Prep Elementary School that featured award winning designer, entrepreneur and educator, Jason Mayden.

Overall, BFF Homecoming explored impact on consumer culture, how diversity drives innovation, and how creativity drives global competitiveness. The forum also provided connections for Black footwear professional and brands to share concerns and solutions to help shape the conversation while bridging gaps across the industry.

A full-length video of the event can be accessed here

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