Fashion is ushering in a new generation of designers, bringing creativity and diversity. Gen Z is one of the driving forces regarding trends — whether emerging designers are tapping into their experience while at work or the recent resurgence of vintage stores.

Here are five Black designers changing the fashion status quo, from the runway to viral social media posts.

Antoine Manning — Homage Year

You may have seen Homage Year’s signature OVA Bag on social media. Bronx-native Antoine Manning is the mind behind this viral and recognizable design. He started his label in 2014 as a tribute to his father after his passing. The designer has since partnered with Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Black Fashion Fair.

“Our Gen Z perspective influences our approach by making us slow down,” he told Byrdie about his contribution to the fashion industry. “We live in a world of instant gratification and a sense of urgency in all that we do. We want to be more focused on easing our way through things. We want to emphasize intent, storytelling, and world-building, creating a genuine attachment between ourselves and our community.”

Tia Adeola


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Tia Adeola premiered her designs at New York Fashion Week in 2020 and has since been a steadily rising figure on the scene. Her designs are instantly recognizable for their ethereal quality and soft fabrics. They have been worn by celebrities such as SZA, Gigi Hadid and Dua Lipa. Her goal is to empower women through clothes and ultimately expand her label into accessories and beauty. Adeola also partnered with Black In Fashion Council during this season’s fashion week.

“I always like to say Tia Adeola is for the bold, confident woman who isn’t afraid to walk into the room and have all eyes on her — because she’s best dressed, of course,” she told Byrdie.

A'kai Littlejohn — A'kai 


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A’kai Littlejohn started his fashion career at a young age. At 13, he became the youngest contestant during Project Runway Junior’s second season. The designer made his runway debut in 2018 with the release of A’kai’s Spring/Summer 2018 collection. He creates modern deconstructed worn by celebrities such as Julia Fox and Justine Skye. In addition to preparing collections for New York Fashion Week, Littlejohn is a student at Parsons School of Design in New York City.

“The most rewarding part about my brand is being able to create beautiful things for beautiful women to wear and make them feel confident in the garments I create,” he told Byrdie.

Taofeek Abijako — Head of State


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Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Taofeek Abijako blends couture with African streetwear. He created the label Head of State and became the youngest designer to showcase his work at Men’s NYFW at 19. He sees his generation as pushing back against elitist and exclusive notions often tied to the fashion industry.

“The beginning of a new generation always coincides with a pushback against certain aspects of what came before; that pushback should be central to the questions we ask,” he told Nylon. “I’m representing a marginalized community; we aren’t concerned about our perspective gaining acceptance as much as we are concerned with celebrating every aspect of what makes us.”

Edvin Thompson — Theophillio


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Born in Jamaica and now based in Brooklyn, Edvin Thompson won the highly-esteemed CFDA Award for American Designer of the Year in 2021. His label, Theophillio, blends bright-colored designs, prints and materials for his menswear and womenswear collections. The Spring/Summer 2024 collection is an ode to his roots and was inspired by dancehall. His designs all tell a personal story and are a mode of self-expression.

“My Jamaican heritage has informed everything from my fabrications to my colors to my silhouettes,” Thompson told Ebony. “Denim is the fabric used heavily throughout my designs, and I remember fondly when my mom would dress my siblings and me up in distressed denim and denim shorts with trucker jackets. Jersey is another fabric I often gravitate toward; it’s reminiscent of basketball sets and netted shirts us kids used to wear on the island. Growing up, my aunts and grandmother were the ones who sewed my school uniforms. Even from a young age, I was always conscious of how clothes functioned and how they made me feel.”