For the first time ever the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund title was shared between three winners: Aurora James for her footwear line Brother Vellies, Rio Uribe for his streetwear label Gypsy Sport and Jonathan Simkhai for his eponymous ready-to-wear brand. Each will receive Dhs1.1 million ($US300,000) as further seed money as well as access to an industry mentor to help steer their brands into the future. As we add these emerging designers to our up-and-coming designers list here's a profile on why they're ones to watch...


Aurora James

Aurora James started Brother Vellies because she wanted to introduce the rest of the world to her favourite traditional African footwear, and she's done just that, most recently in Dubai for the Vogue Dubai Fashion Experience. The word 'vellies' is a colloquial word for what is essentially a desert shoe. Born in Toronto and now based in Brooklyn, James travels to Africa every so often learning from local artisans and gaining inspiration for her new collections. Stressing the importance of sustainability, James did say once, "There is a popular saying in South Africa that only two things will survive the apocalypse: cockroaches and vellies." With her new win, she's definitely here to stay.

The CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund has three winners

Rio Uribe

Rio Uribe is based in New York and has a penchant for hats. "Mad hatter! I wear many hats, and I make most of them myself," said Rio. He's the Creative Director of Gypsy Sport, a streetwear label that takes generic items remixing them into fresh pieces. Part of a two-man team, Uribe is responsible for the headwear, sourcing the materials for each season like crochet knits, puka shells and ethnic taqiyah caps. To say Gypsy Sport is edgy might be an understatement; their recent 2016 Spring collection featured all types of models including a pregnant woman. "I think when I claim I am inspired by New York City, I have to really show New York City." Expect the unexpected from Rio.

The CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund has three winners

Jonathan Simkhai

Born and raised in New York, fashion designer Jonathan Simkhai has been featured in countless magazines, from Vogue to Cosmopolitan and Harper's Bazaar. Launched in 2010, his eponymous label is for his 'girl', which he says is the modern cosmopolitan woman. No wonder then that in the past years, his dresses have been worn by Beyonce and Kim Kardashian, a nod to the clean and sexy lines of his designs that accentuate the right curves. He was once asked what he thought about the comparisons made between him and Alexander Wang — another CFDA award-winner. Simkhai replied, "I would say it's an honour. He's really talented and does beautiful work, but it's different. I think I can read uptown; his girl is very downtown." Call it uptown or downtown his dresses are popping up all over town.

The CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund has three winners