The Future Virgils Are in This Group—Introducing the First-Ever VFiles Lab Grant Winners
A primer in VFiles history for the old and the uncool: It started as a digital creator platform and quickly became a community, opening a store in SoHo and producing runway group shows along the way. Hood by Air was the first label stocked at the 12 Mercer Street shop. Rushemy Botter, the co-creative director of Nina Ricci, is an early alum of its runway program, as are many people on the design team at Yeezy. Other names associated with VFiles over the years have included Been Trill’s trio of influential designers: Virgil AblohMatthew Williams, and Heron Preston.
“I started VFiles for the kids in the line,” says Julie Anne Quay. She was executive editor of V Magazine until 2008 and it always struck her that the cool kids were ones hanging out outside the parties she was giving. They should be the ones inside, she remembers thinking. VFiles was launched in 2012 with the V/Visionaire team as launch partners; they’re now separate businesses. 

Since the start Quay has made empowering young people the crux of VFiles’s mission. But in 2020, says Quay, “the kids in the line need more than just a clout factory. We were great at amplifying names and generating billions of impressions on our runway shows. What we realized, especially with the social justice actions over the summer, is that we had a bigger role to play. And that is empowering our community by giving them access to opportunity and education and mentorship.”

Quay launched the VFiles Foundation over the summer; it’s now operating as a nonprofit 501(c)(3). Its first project, VFiles Lab, is a talent incubator—a sort of turbocharged version of the VFiles runway show. A call went out in late October on VFiles’s Instagram account and Quay and the Foundation’s COO Drew Cho received about 1,000 submissions in a month. They whittled down the entries to a group of seven, each of whom will receive a $10,000 grant, 10 weeks of online incubation, and a slot at the first VFiles Lab show in March. 

Among the winners are a modest streetwear designer, the founder of a profit-sharing e-commerce marketplace that funds and develops emerging minority-owned brands, and a brand that integrates mental health into its designs. Additionally, the Foundation will be launching VFiles Academy, a free online education program for creators and entrepreneurs early next year.

“The seven creators we selected are strong representatives of the VFiles community and the values we stand for,” says Quay. “They are exploring projects at the intersection of culture and innovation—whether through tech or visionary narrative change. Future tech, future fashion, future music—driven by inclusivity, storytelling, and heart. We see empathy and connection as the building blocks of brand goodwill and success.” She continues: “The future Virgil Ablohs are in this group.”

Meet the seven VFiles Lab winners here:
pPhoto Courtesy of Faberiump
Photo: Courtesy of Faberium

Bolor Amgalan and Boris Brésil of Faberium, a tokenization platform and curated marketplace providing blockchain solutions to artisans, digital artists, and luxury fashion

Cakes Da Killa, the creator of “Visibility Sucks,” a short film highlighting the struggle of artists amidst COVID-19

Jaylin Kim and Nikolai Artemev of Profet, a fashion brand that integrates guided meditation content
Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Female Person Suit Coat Overcoat Woman Dress Jacket and Blazer
Photo: Courtesy of Chimera

Joshua Mudgett of Chimera, a first of its kind artificial intelligence system which designs garments in 3D and 2D with ready-to-sew patterns
Julian Soto, the creator of “Shake,” a sonic-visual journey through being “Afro-Latino and Afraid in America”
Image may contain Clothing Apparel Human Person Sunglasses Accessories Accessory Female Skirt and Woman
Photo: Courtesy of Acres

Rashaad Strong, of Acres, a profit-sharing e-commerce marketplace that funds and develops emerging minority-owned brands
Image may contain Clothing Apparel Coat Grass Plant Human and Person
Photo: Courtesy of Saeedah Haque
Saeedah Haque, the designer of a modest streetwear brand reinventing the abaya garment into utility wear


NEW YORK, Dec. 16, 2020 – The VFILES Foundation 501(c)(3) today announced the inaugural cohort of grant winners for the VFILES Lab.

Modeled as the Y-Combinator for creators, VFILES Lab was established as a non-profit incubator with a mandate to discover, educate, and empower Original Thinkers. The selected Lab Members will each receive a $10,000 grant, participate in a 10 week incubation program with handpicked world-class industry mentors and partners, and present their finished work to the world at the VFILES Lab show. 

The VFILES Lab is the flagship program of the VFILES Foundation 501(c)(3). 

“On behalf of our team and our board, I am incredibly excited and proud to introduce the first group of recipients of the VFILES LAB grants. Each represents a community of ideas that are about more than just their individual selves; moving culture forward and focusing on social good,” said Julie Anne Quay, Founder of VFILES.

The VFILES Lab 001 cohort comprises 7 grant winners (including 2 co-founder pairs, thus 9 total individuals) that are all creative entrepreneurs and storytellers – designers, musicians, and creative technologists. 

More info on VFILES Lab winners below !

Cakes Da Killa (“Visibility Sucks”)
Cakes Da Killa is a leading figure of the queer hip-hop explosion of 2011. His witty flow and unapologetic delivery helped push the acceptance of openly gay artists in hip-hop establishing him as one of the most fresh and dynamic lyricists to ever hit the modern airwaves.
Quote: “VISIBILITY SUCKS is my latest brainchild. This film is an emotional short that mixes storytelling and surrealism elements to depict current dystopian state as an artist trying to maintain life. Even during a worldwide pandemic the show must go on!”
Rashaad Strong (ACRES)
RaShaad Strong is a Carolina-born, Jersey-raised 26-year-old tech founder & brand strategist with experience in companies such as ONLY NY, Patta UK, GOAT, and more. Over the course of his career, RaShaad has dedicated his 10,000 hours to researching, archiving, and creating design-based projects within the global streetwear community.
Quote: “I see this opportunity as one step closer to leveling the playing field for all minorities breaking into the fashion eco-system from any angle. This is a true investment in the future success of a community much bigger than myself so I’m humbled to play a small role in that progression using the ACRES platform in collaboration with VFILES Lab.”
Saeedah Haque (Saeedah Haque)
Saeedah Haque is a 24-year-old designer from London, UK. Saeedah takes the Abaya and Hijab and reimagines it into streetwear.
Quote: “The label started with a need for urban, utility dressing in an industry crowded with traditionally feminine and decorated styles. Drawing influence from my South Asian heritage and the portrayal of Muslim identity, the voice of my brand transcends the aesthetic. VFILES Lab will allow me to present women and men that cover, in an unapologetic space and take charge of our narrative.”
Jaylin Kim and Nikolai Artemev (PROFET)

Jaylin Kim is a designer, currently living in Seoul, via Paris, Antwerp, and New York. A graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts–Antwerp, she went on to gain industry experience at Louis Vuitton Men’s, Proenza Schouler, and Calvin Klein 205W39NYC. She is also a graduate of Brown University (2013), holding a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and History of Art and Architecture.
Nikolai Artemev is a fashion designer, from Saint Petersburg, Russia. He received his education at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts–Antwerp, where he met PROFET co-founder, Jaylin. After graduation, Nikolai moved to New York where he combined an internship at Marc Jacobs with working on the idea of creating a brand with a “purpose”.

Quote: “PROFET is a fashion brand that integrates guided meditation content to declare the act of dressing up as a therapeutic experience. Started from our belief that clothing has the power to shape the wearer’s emotions, we wanted to use it to help people feel better. We’re passionate about the future of fashion and feel the responsibility one has as a creative of a visual culture that is ‘skin-close’ to the everyday lives of people. In fashion, we are sometimes left feeling ‘bad’ while only a small group feels ‘good’; we want to help people use the power of fashion to feel empowered. The VFILES Lab opportunity is so exciting for us, especially for the mentorship and incubation, to see our vision come to life in a way bigger than we thought possible.”
Julian Soto (“Shake”)
Born and raised in New York City, Julian Soto came up playing music in the world famous Brooklyn Tabernacle, is a professionally trained violinist, and a versatile songwriter & producer.  As a member of both the psychedelic electronic soul group JIL & the hip-hop & jazz-influenced ensemble Onyx Collective, Julian has collaborated with the likes of Ian Isaiah, Kelsey Lu & Nick Hakim, but is finally stepping out into the spotlight as a solo artist.

QUOTE: “Every Member of every generation gets the chance to sing their song to the world.  This is our chance. While our world is on pause, and a new one is born,” said VFILES Lab winner Julian Soto.

Bolor Amgalan and Boris Brésil (Faberium)
Bolor Amgalan is a creative technologist redefining ‘virtual materiality’ with her research spanning virtual reality, computer graphics and blockchain applications for the creative industries. Formerly trained in fashion design, Bolor is a graduate from the MFA Design and Technology program at Parsons.
Boris Brésil is a fashion designer from New Caledonia, presently based in France. Growing up on a Pacific island informed his creative practice as he reinterprets cultural motifs from the prism of couture techniques.
Faberium is a tokenization platform and a curated marketplace proposing blockchain solutions to artisans, digital artists and luxury fashion. 
Bolor’s quote: “My vision for Faberium is to leverage blockchain technology to ensure supply chain transparency and provide a sustainable source of income for artisans all around the world. VFILES Lab is our launchpad to kickstart this venture and I could not be more excited about this opportunity!”
Boris’ quote: “With Faberium I aim to create a bridge between creative people. By using technology to challenge the way things are we can build together a world of exciting new possibilities and fill it with much needed beauty. The VFILES Lab is an incredible opportunity to bring this vision to life.”
Joshua Mudgett (Chimera)

Joshua Mudgett is a designer, machine learning engineer and fashion technologist based in NYC. Joshua’s work focuses on creating new, sustainable design systems using emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning, and biofabrication.