Here's How 5 Fashion Students Got Recognized by Gucci and Awarded a $20K Scholarship

Gucci Changemakers, which has been striving to increase diversity in the fashion industry since 2019, has recognized 22 new students with a $20,000 academic scholarship. This second class joins the previously awarded class in an effort to build an ongoing community of student Changemakers, which has been established through a $1.5 million fund over four years across its two programs: Gucci Changemakers Scholars and Gucci Changemakers X CFDA Scholars by Design.

These young creatives come from different backgrounds and are pursuing slightly different career paths, but they're all honing their skills at community colleges, undergraduate colleges, or universities. This honor doesn't just support young talent financially, by helping them afford tuition, but also offers mentorship and virtual internship opportunities, along with a platform to connect and engage with fellow scholars. 450 students applied for the 2021 program, and POPSUGAR talked to five of the talented and deserving recipients.

"Knowing that I have the safe space to experiment within the fashion industry pushes me to keep being a part of the representation for aspiring Black youth in creative fields."

Jewelry maker Lacey Garza is focused on creating designs and campaigns for people with disabilities. Model Ar'Myiah Lee hopes to build a sustainable fashion line that pays no heed to race, gender, or religion. Brianna Bryson is a photographer that explores identity and is focused on representing the Black community. Quinten Clifford has only been sewing for a year, but has a vision to recognize unique talent that might have otherwise been overlooked. And digital artist John Davillier uses his art as a medium for shedding light on global matters.

Davillier summarizes the motive behind Gucci's initiative quite simply: "Fashion and design are great ways to spread messages because of how universally celebrated and admired these industries are." In highlighting fashion enthusiasts that aim to make a difference and promote inclusion within their work, Gucci is paving the way for smarter, more dignified leaders to control the fashion narrative. Ahead, read what these Changemakers told POPSUGAR about building their portfolios that stood out for a very good reason, and stay tuned for the application for the next round of scholarships, which opens fall 2021.

Lacey Garza, Kingsborough Community College
Courtesy of Lacey Garza

Lacey Garza, Kingsborough Community College

Being recognized by Gucci . . . has inspired me in my schooling to use the opportunities and resources that are being presented to me to the best of my advantage. Being mentored by Gucci's employees and representatives is valuable and critical to my future business plan and career.

"I want to raise awareness and use my style to show a person with a disability in a different light."

I will make a difference in the fashion industry . . . by championing accessibility and inclusivity for people with disabilities. I hope to accomplish this goal by learning about different forms of garment construction to accommodate people with disabilities in a way that makes them feel comfortable and confident in themselves. I'd also like to include people with disabilities when it comes to advertising and help them feel represented in campaigns that showcase their beauty and style.

Your portfolio should . . . stand out and show how your personality infuses your creations. I don't think there's a "right" way to show creativity — it's something prideful that should come from your heart. If you don't feel confident in something that you've put hard work into, then that energy will spread to others and leave you with a bitter feeling. I think what made me stand out was that I want to raise awareness and use my style to show a person with a disability in a different light.

Above: Lacey's jewelry from her Brooklyn-based jewelry shop angelic.y2kshop.


Ar’Myiah Lee, Freshman, Parsons School of Design

The Gucci Changemakers scholarship program . . . inspires me to explore new talents and skills as well as connect with others to make a greater impact on the fashion industry.

My designs are made . . . sustainably, to complement everyone regardless of race, gender, or religion. My goal is to remind people that inspiration is all over by embracing originality and diversity.

Young fashion enthusiasts . . . should keep thinking outside the box. I think what makes me stand out is my ability to try new things and trust my gut in the face of uncertainty.

Ar’Myiah Lee, Freshman, Parsons School of Design
Courtesy of Ar'Myiah Lee
Brianna Bryson, Freshman, Howard University
Courtesy of Brianna Bryson

Brianna Bryson, Freshman, Howard University

Gucci's support . . . inspires me to continue exploring concepts surrounding experience and identity. Knowing that I have the safe space to experiment within the fashion industry pushes me to keep being a part of the representation for aspiring Black youth in creative fields.

My voice as a Black photographer . . . will not only bring diverse perspectives, but push positive narratives. I hope to create diversity and inclusiveness from a global perspective by influencing positive body image and photographing cultures that may be overlooked or negatively stereotyped.

My advice for building a photography portfolio . . . is to have each image represent you. Each theme you want to explore can give you a storyline. What I think made me stand out is the variety of powerful pieces in my portfolio. For example, my strongest work has been portraits and documenting protests. I made sure to give myself plenty of time to enhance my work and feel confident with what I was submitting. Do this, and the interviewers will be impressed and see the potential in whatever medium you submit.

Brianna Bryson, Freshman, Howard University
Brianna Bryson

"My Hair Is My Crown" . . . highlights a curly hairstyle that symbolizes prosperity and a spiritual connection. I wanted to showcase kinky hair because that can be an insecurity amongst some Black women. In the past, hairstyles were symbolic tribal traditions. However, in many workspaces today, it doesn't meet society's standards and may seem unkempt and unprofessional, so this shoot embraces the style regardless of the cultural stigma.


Quinten Clifford, Freshman, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising

Getting the stamp of approval from Gucci Changemakers . . . reaffirms my passions. I have been sewing, designing, and learning about the fashion community for only a year. I still have no idea what I want to do for a career, but this opportunity has definitely confirmed that I'm going in the right direction.

"I would like to create better and clearer avenues for the fashion industry, open up boundaries, and let art be art."

I want to create a platform for . . . new and upcoming designers and young creatives. I went to a performing arts high school and I saw so much talent that was never recognized. If I could give opportunity to those who are striving for it, that would be awesome. I would like to create better and clearer avenues for the fashion industry, open up boundaries, and let art be art. Exactly how I would execute this plan is still in the works, but everything starts small before it becomes a phenomenon.

Originality comes from . . . the heart and mind, you just need to be in tune with yourself. In order to stand out, you must present something that no one else would do in a manner no one else would think of. No one can replicate your ideas or your creativity. I think what made me stand out was the fact that I didn't compare my designs to anyone else's. It's a huge gamble for sure, but I didn't want to compromise myself in order to impress other people. I told myself, "If they like it, cool. If they don't, at least I stayed true to myself."

Quinten Clifford, Freshman, Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising
Photographer: Carl Tiglao Edited by: Quinten Clifford

John Davillier, Freshman, University of Southern California

Being a Gucci scholar . . . affirms that my goals in the industry resonate with others with others and makes all of my hard work feel recognized and rewarded. The resources and opportunities given by this program add fuel to the fires of my passions and make my goals feel all the more attainable; I am extremely excited to get to work and meet other people who want to make the world a better place.

The greatest thing about art . . . is that if you want to do something, you can do it. Even if something seems a bit outlandish, it doesn't hurt to experiment. Stay confident in your uniqueness and in tune with your emotions. It is easy to conform to specific trends or styles out of fear of failure, but in my opinion, this approach will only lead to dissatisfaction in your art and prevent you from standing out.

I want to use my platform as an artist . . . to push for messages I believe in and provide resources to those who need them. There are many great causes that people would support but are widely unaware of, so a large goal of mine is to spread the message and truth of these matters to the world at large, along with raising money to go directly into the schools and neighborhoods of disadvantaged communities.

John Davillier, Freshman, University of Southern California

Above: John's artwork, which was also the first post on his feed.