“To see social power and soft power rewarded this year brings a new degree of consciousness to the industry awards system that is really impressive,” said Samuel Ross, the founder of the A-Cold-Wall label. Alongside Edward Enninful, the editor of British Vogue, the designers Aurora James and Priya Ahluwalia, and Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles of the Black in Fashion Council, Mr. Ross was one of the honorees in the People category, which focused largely on responses to the Black Lives Matter movement.
Last summer, Mr. Ross created the Black Lives Matter Financial Aid Scheme, pledging 10,000 pounds (about $13,350) to the organizations and people on the frontline supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. He also awarded grants of 25,000 pounds (about $33,390) to Black-owned businesses across a diverse field beyond fashion, including technology and industrial design.
“Tearing down the old processes, bringing visibility to those pioneering new paths and offering new opportunities — that is a huge change for this business but it is the right step forward,” Mr. Ross said. “It is what I’ve been doing with my work, but also what the BFC is trying to do with these new awards. This year has been brutal for so many. But this is a celebration that feels correct, and modern and inspiring.”
Also celebrated in the awards video are the 2020 New Wave Creatives. Featuring young artists, activists, casting agents, florists, makeup artists, set designers, stylists and writers, many of whom are interviewed for the montage, the list is meant to be a source for those in the industry looking to recruit from a diverse pool of talent.
Whether the revamped template is here to stay remains to be seen, given that the lavish black tie format is traditionally a valuable way to generate much needed funding. Ms. Rush, who said that conversations about next year’s awards were already underway, pointed out that without the hefty table sponsorship and donations of previous years, there would have been no emergency support available from the BFC Foundation Fashion Fund for the Covid Crisis, which began offering grants to designers earlier this year.
“What we will take forward is the opportunity to champion those who are at the forefront of positive change as well as creativity and commerce in fashion,” Ms. Rush said. “As we go into the new decade, we are mindful of that becoming more important than ever.”