15 Black Fashion Designers You Should Know
It’s February, which means we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day, Presidents Day and Black History Month all month long. Since New York Fashion Week is fresh on our minds, we’re sharing our favorite black designers who are making serious moves in the fashion industry. Get ready to be wowed by these insanely talented black fashion designers.
1. Stella Jean: The stunning Stella Jean is one of Milan’s rising stars. In 2011, she won Vogue Italia’s talent competition, “Who’s on Next,” and now counts designer Armani and Vogue UK editor Suzy Menkes as fans. Her designs are a true reflection of her and embody ladylike silhouettes. Her prints pay tribute to her mother’s homeland of Haiti, as well as West Africa. (Photo via Gareth Cattermole/Getty)
2. Darlene and Lizzy Okpo: Nigerian American sisters Darlene and Lizzy Okpo are the geniuses behind William Okpo, a successful women’s wear line. The Okpo sisters began designing in 2005 at the ages of 19 and 14 (yes, you read that right) with a t-shirt line called Mayhem. Their clothing has been featured in Elle and is carried in Opening Ceremony, among other retailers. (Photo via Christelle de Castro/Vice Magazine)
3. Duro Olowu: Nigerian-born designer Duro Olowu began his L fashion line in 2004 in London. It caught the eye of Vogue editor Sally Singer and Julie Gilhart of Barney’s New York. He’s become famous for his use of bold colors, African prints and ‘70s tailoring. He and his wife, Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, make one impressive power couple. (photo via Slaven Vlasic/Getty)
4. Maxwell Osborne: Maxwell Osborne is the cofounder, along with Dao Yi-Chow, of cutting-edge fashion brand Public School NYC. The brand has won two prestigious awards from the Council of Fashion Designers of America, as well as the accolades of Anna Wintour. In February 2014, the fashion duo decided to branch off from their menswear line, debuting a women’s collection to much praise. (Photo via Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty)
5. Jessie Adore: Jessie Adore is the current Creative Director for Harlem Fashion Row. She started as a fashion blogger before designing her first phantom handbag in 2013. After receiving critical acclaim and a slew of orders, she decided to start her handbag collection, Adore New York, in 2014. The luxury bags are made of finely crafted leather imported from Italy and manufactured in New York City. (Photo via Adore New York)
6. Olivier Rousteing: Olivier Rousteing is a French designer and the current Creative Director of Balmain. He began his designing career in 2003 at Roberto Cavalli, where he quickly worked his way up through the ranks to become Creative Director of their women’s ready-to-wear collection. In 2009, he was tapped to design for Balmain, eventually taking full control of their men’s and women’s ready-to-wear collections at age 25. WOW. (Photo via Mireya Acierto/Getty)
7. Tracy Reese: After graduating from Parsons School of Design in 1984, Tracy Reese began her career as a designer for the infamous fashion house Perry Ellis, eventually becoming the design director for their women’s portfolio. Reese began her own women’s ready-to-wear line in 1996, before following up with her second line, Plenty, in 1998. Reese’s collections are infused with ultra-femininity and are often described as bohemian, eclectic and adventurous. (Photo via Slaven Vlasic/Getty)
8. Quincy “Ouigi” Theodore: Ouigi Theodore is the founder of Brooklyn Circus/Bkc, a fashion boutique and lifestyle brand. His fashion mission is to globally redefine the image of urban America. With boutiques in Brooklyn and San Francisco and his clothes available all around the world, he’s doing just that. (Photo via @maxpoglia)
9. Ituen Basi: Ituen Basi is a Nigerian designer who began her fashion line in 2009. She has won countless awards, including “Most Innovative Designer” and “Emerging Designer of the Year, Africa.” Her designs celebrate individuality and feminism, and have ushered in a new era of unique Ankara designs. (Photo via Samir Hussein/Getty)
10. June Ambrose: June Ambrose is the mastermind stylist and costume designer behind your favorite nineties music videos for artists like Mary J. Blige, Mariah Carey and Jay-Z, just to name a few. Ambrose began her company, Mode Squad, when no one was in the business of dressing celebrities. A couple decades later, she has written a book, launched a women’s ready-to-wear collection (June by June Ambrose), and continues to style celebrities. (Photo via Chelsea Lauren/Getty)
11. Dexter and Byron Peart: Dexter and Byron Peart are the twin brothers and founders of high-end accessories label WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie. Prior to starting their accessories line in 2006, both brothers began the WANT Agency and helped introduce fashion brands like Acne, Nudie Jeans, Filippa K and Maison Kitsuné to North American markets. Their collection includes travel bags and accessories inspired by timeless and functional design classics. (Photo via Wanted Les Essentiels de la Vie)
12. Andrea Iyamah: Andrea Iyamah is famous for her namesake resort swimwear and women’s ready-to-wear collection, which offers unique pieces with a modern twist. Her designs have garnered the attention of socialites like Angela Simmons and have been featured in many publications, including Cosmopolitan UK and Ebony. (Photo via The Style HQ)
13. Armando Cabral: You might recognize this fashion model-turned shoe and accessories designer from your J. Crew catalog. In 2009, Armando Cabral decided to turn his passion for shoes and design into a reality and launched a shoe collection. The brand offers a minimalist, modern and metropolitan perspective on fashion. (Photo via Jason Carter Rinaldi/Getty)
14. Carly Cushnie: While completing her degree at Parsons School of Design, Carly Cushnie perfected her skill as a designer at Donna Karan, Oscar De La Renta and Proenza Schouler. She paired up with Michelle Ochs and launched Cushnie Et Ochs, a women’s ready-to-wear label that has since been donned by celebrities like Reese Witherspoon, Rihanna and Michelle Obama. (Photo via Jemal Countess/Getty)
15. Jerome Lamaar: Lamaar began his design career at 15 years old, working as an intern for Kimora Lee Simmons’ Baby Phat. He was eventually promoted to Senior Designer, and then went on to serve as an apprentice to fashion house Chado Ralph Rucci and consult for brands like Armani before launching his own women’s ready-to-wear line. (Photo via Vivien Killilea/Getty)
Who are your favorite fashion designers of the moment? Let us now in the comments below!
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
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