Forward by Elyse Walker and the CFDA Kick Off Rising Talent Program

FORWARD By Elyse Walker - H 2015
Donato Sardella/Getty Images for FORWARD by Elyse Walker

FORWARD By Elyse Walker - H 2015

Juan Carlos Obando, Suno and Veronica Beard are the initiative's inaugural designers who also designed capsule collections for the store.

In fashion we’re always looking for the next big thing, which often comes in the form of up-and-coming young designers. As someone who runs both a successful brick-and-mortar boutique and e-commerce site, Elyse Walker is well aware of this. With this in mind, the fashion director of Forward decided to partner with the CFDA on a new "Rising Talent" program.

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The initiative — whose inaugural designers are L.A’s Juan Carlos Obando, Erin Beatty and Max Osterweis of Suno and Veronica Miele Beard and Veronica Swanson Beard of Veronica Beard — is meant to support the development of emerging luxury designers. Things kicked off this week with a two-day workshop in L.A., led by Walker and her co-owners, plus key executives from the CFDA who lent advice and tips to participants.

Though Obando has dressed stars including Amy Adams, Abigail Spencer and Freida Pinto, he and the others — who have also outfitted many celebrities in recent seasons — aren’t yet household names. The hope, though, is that could change soon. Giving them further exposure, each label designed an exclusive capsule collection in partnership with Forward, to launch for the spring 2016 season.

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"Forward has always been a champion of emerging designers, and with the current shake-ups in the fashion industry, from e-commerce and fast fashion to social shopping, it’s a challenging time for early talent to achieve that critical next stage in their growth," said Walker in a release. "It was natural to collaborate with the CFDA. This is simply another progression of our mission, and we are thrilled to launch this program." We can’t wait to see more of this promising trio.