Even Though February is the start of Black History Month, we love to support these up and coming Black designers every day. The fashion industry has historically been an exclusive space especially for Black and BIPOC designers. Thankfully in the last few years, high fashion has become a more inclusive place for designers, photographers, models, and creatives. Models such as Winnie Harlow, Precious Lee, Jari Jones, Naomi Chin Wing, and Saffi Karina have represented Black women in fashion shows from major fashion houses such as Dior, Givenchy, Chanel, Miu Miu, and Calvin Klien. Additionally, Black designers such as Virgil Abloh, Olivier Rousteing, and Kimora Lee Simmons have carved a path for others to follow.
1. Edvin Thompson of Theophilio
Edvin Thompson is the creative director and founder of Theophilio, a contemporary clothing brand based in Brooklyn, NY. His designs draw inspiration from his youth in Kingston, Jamaica and his new experiences in New York City. His international influences are what makes Thompson’s designs stand out from other NYC based brands. He incorporates his native Jamaican colors like bright gold and dark green in his designs, paying homage to his heritage, while mixing modern elements in, making a fresh creative crossover.
2. Carly Cushnie of Cushnie
Carly Cushnie is a New York based creative director and fashion designer. She is best known for her Ready-to-Wear collection CUSHNIE worn by celebrities such as Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, Zendaya, Ava Duvernay, Rihanna, and Ashley Graham. Some of her classic design elements include artful tailoring and feminine drapery, making CUSHNIE a beloved brand by many influential women. Cushnie herself has received many awards such as the Forbes 30 under 30 in 2017. She was the first black female nominee for the Council of Fashion Designers of America Swarovski Award in 2013. And in 2019 Carly Cushnie was appointed to the CFDA Board of Directors.
3. Heron Preston
Heron Preston is an artist, creative director, content creator, fashion designer and DJ who gained popularity among celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Bella Hadid, and Hailey Bieber. Preston worked with other black designers such as Virgil Abloh. After working in the fashion industry he became an advocate for sustainability. Preston collaborated with the NYC Department of Sanitation on a collection of zero-waste clothing and accessories that sold out immediately following its launch in 2016.
4. Hussein Suleiman, Jefferson Osei, and Abderrahmane Trabsini of the Daily Paper
5. LaQuan Smith
6. Christopher John Rogers
Louisiana born designer, Christopher John Rogers, has made a name for himself with his designs featuring bright colors, bold prints and mixed textures. He graduated from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2016 and launched his CJR brand. Now at just 28, he has dressed iconic women such as Michelle Obama, Cardi B, Rihanna, Tracee Ellis Ross, Gabrielle Union, Tessa Thompson, and Lizzo.
7. Tracy Reese
8. Telfar Clemmens
9. Johnel Jamison of Johnny Nelson Jewelry
Founded in 2017, the Johnny Nelson Jewelry line has made a name for itself in New York City and beyond. Jamison’s jewelry designs pay homage to historical legends like writers, activists, and singer songwriters. One of his most beloved designs is the Let Freedom Ring piece, inspired by Mt. Rushmore which features the faces of four Black idols, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Marcus Garvey and Frederick Douglass. Johnel Jamison is one of the key designers in what is being called the Black Renaissance, and we are here to support him and his groundbreaking designs.
10. Brandon Blackwood
Brooklyn born designer, Brandon Blackwood, became a “cult favorite” thanks to his End Systemic Racism tote bag that went viral in 2020. The iconic bag is made with recycled leather, featuring brass plating that states, “End Systemic Racism”. Not only does the brand support social justice and equality for all, they are also zero waste when producing their leather products. The brand currently offers bags, outerwear, shoes, and accessories, but we can’t wait to see what else Blackwood has in store for the future.
Celebrate Black History Month by supporting these up and coming designers and educating yourself on the Black-American history and the Black experience in America. See more Black designers that helped shape the fashion industry here. And follow us on Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook.