Travis Scott’s collaboration track record is pretty impressive—who else could join forces with McDonald’s, Nike, Fortnite, and Saint Laurent?—but the hip-hop star’s latest may be his most meaningful. Today’s announcement that Scott’s Cactus Jack Foundation would be joining forces with The New School’s Parsons School of the Design to launch a special fashion program is the start of an unprecedented alliance. Working with the college and non-profit My Brother’s Keeper, Scott will provide what he calls, “an authentic fashion design program” to high schoolers interested in the field. Participants will be able to log onto courses with Parsons’ world-renowned instructors. The classes for the online certification, plus a web-based incubator for emerging talent, will set stylish young hopefuls on the path towards success. Centered in Scott’s hometown of Houston, it will also include scholarships that allow students nationwide to get in on the action.
As the school where Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs, Emily Adams Bode, and Proenza Schouler’s Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez honed their skills, Parsons has been the gold standard for design education in the United States. Its graduates benefit from a world-class education, but one that is mostly inaccessible to those unable to pay the costly tuition that is now common at many of the nation’s private colleges and universities. Fashion can be insular but attending Parsons comes with access to internships, networking opportunities, and mentorships with the potential to open doors. Allowing high schoolers from communities that traditionally have been underrepresented within the school’s student body to experience the curriculum is a move that feels long overdue.
The Parsons initiative is just one of the many charitable announcements Scott revealed today. United by their focus on uplifting the community and giving youth the tools they need for long-term achievement, Scott’s contributions run the gamut from starting Cactus Jack Gardens, an elementary school agricultural and nutrition program, to an endowment for students attending historically Black colleges and universities. Named in honor of Scott’s grandfather, an HBCU alum, the Waymon Webster scholarship will cover the tuition fees for students who have faced financial difficulty during the pandemic.
Usually, when a celebrity announces a fashion collaboration, it just means more merch, but Scott’s altruistic endeavors provide a new template. In giving students access to programs that can nurture their talents and encourage them to explore possibilities, Scott is helping to change fashion for the better. Broadening the industry’s talent pool has been a talking point for years, and every push towards a business where all people are allowed opportunities is a step forward.