The Fifteen Percent Pledge, an organization founded by designer Aurora James of Brother Vellies in response to the racial reckoning of 2020, hosted a star-studded inaugural gala over the weekend in celebration of its accomplishments to date. “We have been working hard for the past two years, physically, emotionally and every kind of way,” James said in a speech. “So please use this as an opportunity to celebrate what we have done and where we are going, because the future looks bright.” The non-profit calls on retailers to commit at least 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned brands, and has so far enlisted Nordstrom, Sephora, Macy’s, and Madewell, among other big-name retailers, to sign the pledge. According to the website, more than 28 of the world’s most recognized retailers have taken the pledge, redirecting $10B in revenue to Black brands. “This journey will not be perfect for any of us, but the true fear should never be the stumble forward but the paralysis of standing still and failing to act,” James continued.
The ceremony’s host, “And Just Like That” star Nicole Ari Parker, dressed in accordance to the dress code in a red satin Laquan Smith mini dress with voluminous sleeves and black strappy sandals by Brother Vellies. Held at the New York Public Library, the special night required attendees to wear Black tie attire made by Black designers, giving visibility to a number of them — including Christopher John Rogers, Laquan Smith, Edvin Thompson, and Charles Harbison.
Other notable attendees include “Daredevil” actor Rosario Dawson; models Iman, Bethann Hardison, Paloma Elsesser and Joan Smalls; talk show host Tamron Hall; and legendary fashion designer Dapper Dan. Hall presented the Industry Pioneer Award to Iman for her impact as a model, actress and philanthropist, while Dan presented the Inspiration Award to none other than Stacey Abrams, whose leadership as a voting rights activist and entrepreneur is inspiring to so many.
Scroll on to check out the best-dressed celebrities and VIP guests at the first Fifteen Percent Pledge Benefit Gala.