A group of high school students have been encouraged to think outside the classroom and build community connections. It all started with a simple sneaker concept, but together they’re making major footprints in the fashion community.
Central Toronto Academy has implemented a program called ‘6ixess Academy’, run by the Art Director Rebecca Dileo, as a way to get kids involved with social entrepreneurship.
“The overall goal is to provide students with real world experiences first and foremost… knowing that they can create something and that creation can be put into print and they can be a walking, talking billboard for what they are doing.”
The opportunity to design a prototype for a sneaker presented itself through a friend of Dileo’s from “Fashion Helps”, a not-for-profit organization. Over the span of a month and a half mentors from within the community including Gotstyle’s Melissa Austria, George Sully from Sully Wong, Roger Gingerich from the Gingerich group and many more, came into the school and helped the students with their designs and expectations.
The students had to pitch their sneaker ideas in “The Wolf’s Den”…a play on the popular show Dragon’s Den, since their school mascot is a wolf. Sarah Moniz, Co-Designer of the shoe, says the sneaker completely encompasses who they are.
“We stood up and we explained that this was the shoe for the kids from the kids, and everything about it just incorporated our school voice as a whole with how simple and collective that we all are,” Moniz said. “It is all shown in the shoe.”
6ixess received a few provincial government grants and partnered with some amazing mentors, including Gotstyle, and Toronto fashion designers Sully Wong. Together, they created a sneaker called the Wolf Sneaker that will be sold exclusively at Gotstyle. The sneakers will retail for about $120 bucks a pair, but Andrei Martyu, Co-Designer, says you can’t put a price tag on the knowledge and experience gained.
“You have to work with those people and they have some certain demands that you need to meet and at that point you’re like, okay, I can’t just give up. I’ve gotta keep going with it, and I gotta stick to it.
The 6ixess Academy has already got t-shirts, sweatshirts, sweatpants, snap backs, water bottles, phone cases, and now shoes…but they’re not stopping there. They plan to bring in leggings and even a line of hijabs designed by students as well.
Dileo said this is the best way to get our young people properly prepared for the real world.
“It’s all about creating this generation that is self-sufficient. They know how to hustle, in a sense, it’s the art of the hustle and just giving them the techniques that they need to be successful and that comes through the mentorship programming that we have at this school,” said Dileo.
All proceeds will go back into the high school arts program to create community connection assignments like these to help build social entrepreneurship.