Designer Brands, the parent company of US shoe retailer Designer Shoe Warehouse (DSW), has announced it will be making a two million dollar investment into “advancing action-oriented diversity, equity and inclusion”.
The investment comes as part of a partnership with Pensole Lewis College (PLC) and its president, footwear designer D’Wayne Edwards.
Designer Brands will be investing in the first Black-owned footwear factory in the US, JEMS (Jan Ernst Matzeliger Studio) by Pensole, producing shoes designed by PLC graduate students. The designs are to be sold exclusively at DSW.
In a release, Designer Brands CEO, Roger Rawlins, noted the lack of representation for people of colour across all design industries, adding the investment “will address root causes to remove barriers”.
He continued: “Designer Brands and DSW’s commitment with Pensole will create a US-based shoe factory, with the goal of all work leading to the launch of Black designers’ brands inside DSW.”
The initiative comes as part of Designer Brands’ Black History Month theme, More Than A Month, established to pay homage to Black creators.