With the current political climate and widespread decrease in federal funding of the arts, the country is in dire need of organizations that promote diversity, empowerment, and inclusivity—in addition to creativity. This month, we’re thrilled to spotlight photographer (and Designow advisor) Sophie Elgort of Through Our Lens, who is doing just that.
The daughter of noted fashion photographer Arthur Elgort, Sophie co-founded the charity with her friend Carolyn Pride (who has a background in the non-profit world). Utilizing photography and mentorship, Through Our Lens aims to empower high-school-aged girls in underserved communities to explore careers in fashion, using photography not only as a medium to boost self-esteem and nurture creativity, but also to build portfolios and develop professional relationships within the notoriously hard-to-crack fashion industry.
Though Elgort is conscious of her fortunate position (she grew up around the sets of some of the most iconic fashion shoots of all time), she has always been conscious of the industry’s lack of diversity, which is why she wanted to create no barrier of entry to TOL. “You don’t have to own your camera. You never even have had to take a picture before,” says Elgort. “We’re all about inclusion. The really cool thing is that all of the girls now know how to use professional SLR camera and we’re only a few months into the program.”
Designow was lucky enough to host the enthusiastic group of 12 young girls who are part of TOL’s inaugural class at our studio for an inspirational Saturday morning panel that included Carla Morte (VP of Global PR - DKNY), Rachel Schwartzmann (Founder -The Style Line), Cinzia Brandi (CD -Designow), and Yinan Xia (Etienne Aigner-Designer).
Designow also created a special "Through Our Lens Room" in the Pop-up Gallery Shop they recently opened in West Chelsea, thanks to the generous participation of photographers like Sophie Elgort (of course!), Antoine Verglas, Kenneth Willardt, Darren Keith, Alessandro D'Andrea, Paul Richard Thomas, Jonas Gustavsson, Erez Sabag, Jeff Licata, Gary Lupton, Bill Diodato, Hudson Taylor, Snezhana Paderina and Jordan Sullivan. With 25% of the sales going to "Through Our Lens".
If you’re as inspired as we are by Sophie and Carolyn’s mission, we encourage you to join the conversation and take action! To learn more or find out how you can help, please visit www.throughourlensnyc.org. And be sure to check out the Through Our Lens baseball cap which Elgort created with Designow, proceeds of which will benefit Elgort’s initiatives.