The importance of diversity in fashion is evident now more than ever, thanks to some major inclusivity milestones achieved in recent years, particularly by Black creatives. Edward Enninful’s appointment as the editor-in-chief of British Vogue in 2017 marked the first time a Black editor was appointed to any edition of Vogue, while Virgil Abloh taking the reins at Louis Vuitton as the artistic director of menswear in 2018, made history as the first Black designer to do so. All of which to say, visibility really does matter. With that in mind, the best way to advocate for change is to support the creatives who are already making fashion a more diverse and inclusive space.
Here, 10 of the coolest Black-owned fashion brands and designers that are shaping the industry as we know it.
Designed by creative Telfar Clemens, this achingly cool label deals in the business of blurring lines between seeming binaries, whether it’s gender or high/low culture with their unisex apparel offerings and accessories. A favorite of singer Kelela, their signature shopping bag has become the ‘It’ bag for the downtown set.
If you’re craving whimsy and wit in equal measure when it comes to your accessories, look no further than Brother Vellies. Created by Aurora James with the goal to create sustainable jobs for women artisans in Africa, Brother Vellies makes shoes and bags for the modern woman who works and plays hard. From pink ostrich feather-festooned plexiglass mules to the white lace pumps favored by the likes of Beyoncé, Brother Vellies is the best way to walk in the shoes of the woman you’d like to be.
Coco and Breezy
Talk about a sister act—Coco and Breezy, an innovative eyeglasses brand, was founded by twin sisters and designers Corianna and Brianna Dotson 10 years ago. In the decade since they started, the Dotson twins designed glasses for the late, great Prince and have been featured by publications like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. The Dotsons are creatives in more than one arena, as well; when they’re not busy with their glasses business, they moonlight as DJs and visual artists.
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Don’t forget to close your eyes and think about every little pixel that has created the full picture of your journey. What are looking forward to for the beginning of the new year? We want to open up our office to do meetups for creatives to have creative sessions and DJs who don’t have access to learn how to play on CDJs to learn at our Coco and Breezy space. If you are interested we will start an email list. Reach out to [email protected]✨ ———————————————————————— 📷 @denzelgolatt 💁🏾♀️ @hairbysusy
Recho Omondi is a fiercely independent voice in the fashion industry, choosing to play by her own rules. Case in point: the designer only releases one collection a year to a loyal and rapidly growing fan base, as opposed to showing according to the industry’s increasingly harried schedule. Omondi’s designs are dreamy yet bold, ranging from deconstructed ruffled trapeze dresses and silk blouses that trail into romantic overskirts to embellished vintage tees and embroidered sweatshirts that have found fans in Issa Rae and Solange Knowles.
As the 2018 recipient of the CFDA Fashion Fund prize, Pyer Moss’ Kirby Jean-Raymond will be a designer to watch. Jean-Raymond, however, has been doing the work for years, creating thought-provoking collections that not only entice aesthetically, but challenge viewers and consumers both politically and personally.
LaQuan Smith’s glamorous, unapologetically sexy looks are instantly recognizable, whether they’re being sported by a coterie of Kardashians or Lady Gaga, all of whom are big fans of the label. Smith created his eponymous label without the aid of design school, relying instead on his intuition and the sewing skills he’s been honing since his teenage years.
What’s better than one Black woman designer? How about two. Besties Ashley Cimmone and Moya Annece created their Brooklyn-based line of luxury bags with one goal in mind: to make travel easier and to look good while doing it. Ashya has reinterpreted the much-maligned fanny pack into their signature cooler-than-cool “belt bags” that will make you want to carry all your worldly possessions cinched around your waist or slung across your hip.
Consider Sincerely, Tommy the ultimate curation for your most aspirational life. The Bed-Stuy concept store that also operates e-commerce on its website, selects the most beautiful and unique items for its customers, whether it’s a perfectly knit cropped sweater by an up-and-coming indie fashion label or a rare vintage dress in mint condition.
Third Crown’s distinctive, geometric designs are the work of husband-and-wife design team Kristina and Kofi Essel. The pair draw inspiration from architecture and bold lines, resulting in truly unique pieces that have captured the approval of Erykah Badu and Solange Knowles.
D.I.D. Nail Paint
D.I.D. nail polish was born from the desire to have the perfect manicure without any of the toxic chemicals that can harm both your body and the environment. Nail technician and esthetician Adrienne Blanks became determined to create a product that will deliver not only an exceptional manicure, but would allow users to use it guilt-free. The result? D.I.D. nail paint, a highly-pigmented, non-toxic formula that will give you perfectly polished nails in just two coats.
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