22 Modern Fashion Designers Who Are Black, Dope And Ruling The Runway
Don't wait for a boycott to learn about these fashion forward labels.
March 31, 2015 at 8:01 pm
Go online and insert the word "apology" after the name of your favorite fashion brand. More than likely the results will show they've trended for more than their designs.
Many of the world's leading fashion houses have created items deemed too insensitive to tolerate. The insults range from Gucci's Black face turtlenecks that had Italian designer Alessandro Michele's name in headlines to Burberry's lynch hoodies that caused designer Riccardo Tisci to issue a mass apology. Apparently, it's not always easy to be cutting edge while remaining unoffensive in fashion, but the outrage that follows is even more revealing. Almost immediately, notable figures begin calling for boycotts and searching for Black replacements — as if dope Black designers aren't out here killing the fashion game in broad daylight.
Don't wait for the next public fashion scandal to happen before learning about Black designers who are already ruling the runway. Here are 25 designers you should know about, right now.
1. Telfar Clemens
Known for his popular shopping bag made with 100 percent vegan leather, Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens created the unisex clothing line Telfar in 2005. GQ magazine dubbed him the "King of Fashion Week" for his February 2019 New York Fashion Week (NYFW) show and his 2020 Spring/Summer line opened NYFW in September. With the tagline "Not for you — for everyone,"celebrities from Lil Nas X to Selena Gomez have been featured on his Instagram wearing his designs.
2. Tracy Reese
With a new sustainably designed collection titled Hope For Flowers and over 20 years in the industry, Tracy Reese is as influential as they come. The powerhouse designer has taken a serious approach to responsible fashion designing Hope For Flowers locally in Flint, Michigan. Specializing in ready-to-wear clothing, accessories and home fashions, she is also a board member of the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America; and frequently dressed none other than the former First Lady of America — Michelle Obama.
3. Korto Momolu
Liberian-born fashion designer and Project Runway season 5 alum, Korto Momolu launched her Korto Momolu fashion line in 2006. Since then, Momolu has consistently released breathtaking designs in each collection. Her 2020 Spring/Summer collection —high-fashion hemp designs showcased during NYFW — highlighted women in cannabis and brought awareness to the non profit Women Grow, which is working to diversify the cannabis business. Former Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, known as the first elected female president in Africa, and Miss Universe 2011 Leila Lopes are some of Momolu's notable clients. With exquisite fashionable designs tailored for all sizes, Korto Momolu is an inclusive brand for all women.
4. Fe Noel
Based in Brooklyn with Grenadian roots, Felishia "Fe" Noel eventually launched her women's fashion line out of a boutique that she opened at 19-years-old. The Fe Noel fashion line incorporates the love of travel and style into each design. Noel was named "Designer of the Year" at the 2019 Essence Best In Black Fashion Awards and has attracted several fashionable celebrities. Even Michelle Obama wore the designer on her "Becoming" book tour.
5. Samantha Black
Project Runway season 11 fashion designer, Samantha Black launched her SammyB fashion line in 2005. After appearing on the fashion reality show, Black made a big splash at New York Fashion Week with her Spring 2014 Collection named Double Sided. Since then, she's been featured on Beyoncé's Instagram and worn by many notable artists, including Nicki Minaj. Her clean lines and engaging designs make her fashion brand an ideal choice for the "new modern woman."
6. Christopher John Rogers
Exhibiting chic and modern designs, Christopher John Rogers launched his first collection in 2017. The Brooklyn-based designer focuses on creating authentic styles for women who are self assured and unapologetic. Naturally names like Michelle Obama, Traci Ellis Ross, Cardi B and Lizzo have stepped-out in dashing Christopher John Roger pieces. Though relatively new, the Christopher John Rogers brand is already notable.
7. Kimberly Goldson
A Project Runway season 9 finalist, Kimberly Goldson teamed up with her sister Shelly Powell to launch the Kimberly Goldson fashion brand in 2011. The designers are known for blending their Brooklyn background with their international experiences to form luxurious, bold feminine designs. Fashion host Bevy Smith wore a specially crafted Kimberly Goldson dress to the 2019 Met Gala, showcasing the brand's fearless stand-out ability.
8. LaQuan Smith
Debuting his label in 2013, designer Laquan Smith's fashion line received early support from fashionistas like Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian. The Laquan Smith brand is known for the details etched into each design with fashion forward pieces that fit and flatter his clients. Both revealing and bold, Laquan Smith highlights confidence in style.
9. Azede Jean-Pierre
Haiti-born and NYC based, talented designer Azede Jean-Pierre is known for celebrating the sensual femininity in her designs. She debuted her first Fall/Winter collection in February 2012, which earned her praises and landed her on the cover of Women’s Wear Daily. Jean-Pierre designed Michelle Obama's blue dress worn on the Essence August 2014 magazine cover and has been spotted on many celebrities including Gabriel Union and Solange Knowles. Most notably, the designer took a break to focus on her philanthropy in Haiti, but has since returned to bless the world with her show-stopping looks.
10. Victor Glemaud
Since 2006, the Haitian born designer Victor Glemaud has shared his eponymous brand with the world. Currently based in New York City, Victor Glemaud is an inclusive contemporary knitwear line that typically features bold colors and designs. The brand has attracted several celebrity names, from Pose star Indya Moore to iconic super model Iman. Several stars like Insecure creator Issa Rae and talented recording artist Lizzo have worn Victor Glemaud on magazine covers.
11. Dumebi Andrea Iyamah
Canadian-based Nigerian designer, Dumebi Iyamah first showcased her resort and ready-to-wear line, Andrea Iyamah on her blog in 2011. The designs gained her acclaim from the fashion industry and was followed up with a couture line that caters to people who want more exclusive styles. In 2013, the designer launched a successful swimwear line that has been featured on the cover of Essence with Ciara. Angela Simmons has also sported Andrea Iyamah along with Gabriel Union and other fashionable celebs.
12. Olivier Rousteing
Olivier Rousteing is a Parisian-born fashion designer and began his career designing for Roberto Cavalli in 2003. He became the creative director for Balmain in 2011 and is said to have “breathed new life” to the brand. Rousteing's Balmain designs are inspired by the music scene and his styles have been worn by some of the best artists in the music industry; including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Jennifer Lopes and Justin Bieber.
13. Abrima Erwiah
An experienced fashion marketing executive, Ghanaian-American Abrima Erwiah launched Studio 189 with actress and activist Rosario Dawson in 2011. As co-creative director, Erwiah leads the social enterprise, which creates African and African-inspired fashion items on the continent. The brand works with creative communities in Africa to produce the material for its gorgeous fashion line and sells the products out of flagship stores in New York City and Accra, Ghana. In return, Studio 189 focuses on education, employment and social development within those same communities. Actor Boris Kodjoe, supermodel Iman and Stars actor and recording artist Quincy Brown are a few celebs who have sported Studio 189.
14. Kahindo Mateene
Congo-born Kahindo Mateene initially launched her self-named fashion label, Kahindo under the name Modahnik in 2009. Even though the label rebranded to Kahindo in 2016, it maintained its contemporary colorful vacation style. Mateene creates visually striking collections by fusing together trends and traditions of her heritage, resulting in a unique and bold aesthetic with hints of feminine sentiment. She also competed on Project Runway season 12. The Chi actress, Yolanda Ross rocked a Kahindo design on the 2019 Cannes Festival red carpet.
15. Stella Jean
An Italian-Haitian fashion designer who is highly praised for her blend of Creole and European fashion, Stella Jean's namesake fashion line has been recognized by Vogue Italy and Georgio Armani, among others. Her wax designed fabrics are cultivated responsibly from small African producers and her styles have been featured on Rihanna, Beyoncé and other big names.
16. Carly Cushnie
Fashion CEO and Creative Director Carly Cushnie established the modern woman's line, Cushnie in 2008. Her brand prides itself on the "balance of proportion, structure and fluidity," appealing to a diverse group of women. Celebrity entertainer Lala Anthony is featured in Cushnie's Spring/Summer 2020 collection and most of the usual influential names— Michele Obama, Beyoncé and Lupita Nyong'o — have been spotted in Cushnie.
17. Maxwell Osborne
Maxwell Osborne is the other half of the tailored streetwear clothing line, Public School. Together with business partner David-Yi Chow, the duo has dominated the urban fashion market, since they launched their line back in 2008. Today, Public School is known for its fashionable designs for both men and women. The award winning brand also manufactures most of its collection locally in New York City, contributing to a sustainable climate. In addition to its clothing apparel, Public School is known for its successful collaboration with Nike on a collection of Air Force One sneakers.
18. David Tlale
South African-based designer David Tlale is by no means new to the fashion scene. Having been around for over 15 years, his self-named fashion line has earned accolades and awards not only in South Africa but in fashion capitals around the world. Tlale's elegant and eccentric details create fascinating looks for both men and women. During her Lion King press tour, acclaimed international actress Florence Kasumba —who has appeared in Black Panther and The Avengers — wore a stunning David Tlale bomber jacket. Many other fashionable celebs have been spotted in the brand.
19. Duro Olowu
A prime example of the saying “it's never too late to switch careers,” Nigerian-British lawyer-turned-designer, Duro Olowu launched his first womenswear collection in October 2004, earning him the New Designer of the Year award during the British Fashion Week in London. His bold color choices, exquisite fabric selections and eye-catching patterns make the Duro Olowu brand a real treat to wear and view. Of course, high-profile names like Michelle Obama and famed Indian actress Deepika Padukone have been recognized wearing Duro Olowu.
20. Kerby Jean-Raymond
A New York based fashion designer, Kerby Jean-Raymond founded the label Pyer Moss in 2013, gathering huge international support from publications such as Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue, Style.com and GQ. His popularity cemented him the coveted Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award in 2014 and has put him on the radar of countless celebrities. Jean-Raymond's client list includes all the who's who of the entertainment business and his striking designs celebrate Black culture in style.
21. Charles Harbison
Brooklyn-based designer Charles Harbison is the Creative Director and Founder of the Harbison collection, which he introduced in 2013. A luxury fashion brand, Harbison caters to women who embrace both their femininity and masculinity through modernly constructed and luxurious clothing pieces. The designer has collaborated with celebrity stylist Jason Bolden, creating looks for Ava DuVernay and Yara Shahidi, among others. Though he hasn't released a new collection, since his Summer/Spring 2016 line, Harbison's new designs can be seen on many of our current favs.
22. Virgil Abloh
As the artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear and founder of the Italian based fashion line Off White, the talented Ghanaian-American Virgil Abloh is a big name in the design world. Abloh, who was born in Chicago, launched the luxury streetwear label Off-White in 2013 and currently acts as the brands creative director. Before that, Abloh was known as Kanye West's creative director. Jay-Z, Beyonce, Asap Rocky and Rihanna are among the many who have rocked the label.
Some of the worlds most engaging fashion comes from Black culture and many of its most dashing designs from Black designers. The 22 names on this list are just a few of the many Black notable fashion creators who have standout brands. Don't wait for the next big fashion offense to learn more about them and others who are dominating the fashion game. Support these labels; not because they're Black, but because they're simply dope.