“Where should we begin?” says 1 Granary founder Olya Kuryshchuk when asked about the issues plaguing young designers this year. Our current global health crisis is limiting career opportunities for young people around the world, potentially stunting the careers of an entire generation. Kuryshchuk rattles off a long list of new graduates’ most salient concerns: “fear of uncertainty and fear of being irrelevant, expired visas, lack of jobs, or any other freelance opportunities, absence of community support, poor mental health, money, money, money.”
To combat the difficult job market, 1 Granary has launched an extensive database of new talents called “Designers to Hire.” The list is populated by recent-ish grads from universities around the world, representing a wide range of aesthetics, metiers, and viewpoints. “We aimed for a truly diverse selection of work, not only in terms of creators but also references and skill sets,” says Kuryshchuk. “We looked at the depth and quality of research, the designer’s ability to develop their initial ideas and concepts into a final product, story telling, visual communication and technical skills, innovation, cultural relevance—all those skills that are making these designers employable individuals.”
The database lives on 1 Granary’s website, and its launch feels like a natural extension of what Kuryshchuk and 1 Granary have been doing since the start: offering an unvarnished look at the industry and the new voices working to establish themselves within it. In addition to spotlighting new designers through interviews and portfolios hosted on Pinterest, the site also offers interviews with recruiters, opinion pieces on sustainability, and advice from experts on how to navigate the job market.
The hope is that fashion companies large and small use the database as a resource—both for new talents and to assess their own hiring practices. Kuryshchuk offers some advice to those hiring: “Companies should work more closely with fashion universities to create supportive structures from the very beginning of the designers’ journey. The current gap between fashion education and the industry is too big,” she says. “In the industry’s efforts towards authentic diversity, we have to face the fact that support needs to start at the beginning of the student’s educational journey in order to give real opportunities and achieve equality in the arts.”
And importantly, financial support remains key. “Don’t,” she says, “offer free internships to a designer that just went through seven years of studies.”
Fashion professionals, take note: These are the new talents to support and the fresh ideas to welcome. Are you up ready?