Mike Amiri has built a global brand, showing at Paris Fashion Week, but his search for the next big thing in fashion is happening at home in the United States. Today, the Californian designer is announcing a new prize for nascent American talent: The Amiri Prize will award one young American designer a $100,000 prize and a yearlong mentorship with Amiri himself. Applications open today, March 17 and continue through April 18. American residents with a fashion business between one and three years old are eligible. The winner will be selected from a panel of judges including Only the Brave president Renzo Rosso; stylist Karla Welch; Y/Project and Diesel creative director Glenn Martens; Harper’s Bazaar’s Nikki Ogunnaike; Union’s Chris Gibbs; and Spunge owner Salehe Bembury.
“As an independent designer, I have had the privilege to forge an unconventional path and find success outside of the current establishment,” the designer said in a statement. “The Amiri Prize is tailored to young designers who are often overlooked and to help provide opportunity, knowledge, and resources to create a foundation for success.”
“Our world is globalized and the influence coming from different parts of the world are what makes fashion truly global too. I am positive that the new American designers we will bring to the forefront with this initiative will offer interesting contributions, and I look forward to being inspired by them,” said Rosso.
Amiri has made his career by dressing musicians, slowly expanding into capsule collections for celebrity-favorite retailers like Maxfield in Los Angeles, before growing into a fully fledged ready-to-wear operation in 2014. Rosso’s Only the Brave invested in Amiri in 2019, helping boost its international profile and sales. At the start of the 2010s, this might have seemed like a nontraditional path, from the entertainment world to Paris Fashion Week, but Amiri’s course is slowly becoming the norm for other American talents whose first-hand fashion experience is more likely to have happened on a musician’s tour than in a Parsons’s workroom.
Challenging the norm and breaking boundaries is exactly what Amiri and co. are looking for in the applicants. “I’m looking for someone who is unafraid with their creativity and is sustainably focused,” says Karla Welch. “[Someone] that doesn’t just want to abide by the status quo. It’s the only way forward!”
The Amiri Prize joins the ranks of other American talent initiatives, like Kerby Jean-Raymond and Kering’s multi-platform incubator Your Friends in New York and Vogue’s own CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. Here’s hoping the increased spotlight in young American designers will help New York Fashion Week continue to offer as many exciting shows and collections as its European peers.