In celebration of Black History Month, NYLON is running a spotlight series called UNAPOLOGETIC. Every day, we’ll celebrate different aspects of black culture through profiles, interviews, roundtables, reviews, videos, and op-eds. #Blacklivesmatter and we hold that truth to be self-evident.
This year, New York Fashion Week proved that some designers are making huge strides toward increasing diversity in the industry. For the first time ever, there was at least one minority counted on the runway at every single show. (To be exact, 31.5 percent of the models that were hired to strut down the catwalk were people of color.)
Representation is more relevant than ever, but we mustn't forget the importance of giving diverse communities the opportunity to succeed in the industry as well. For the last annual #BlackFriday of Black History Month, we rounded up 42 designers to help update your wardrobe and further expand your style. From clothing and shoes to accessories and housewares, we've got you covered.
Romeo Hunte is a contemporary lifestyle brand driven by street chic. The Brooklyn, New York-born designer created his line of women’s and men’s clothing and accessories with an aesthetic that combines “effortlessly chic and casual style with a minimal yet complex flair.”
Telfar Clemens created TELFAR, a unisex clothing line, in 2005. His clothes, hats, bags, and jewelry are sold internationally. His recent collection features unique cutouts and bold shades of red-orange, green, and blue.
Tracy Reese is a well-known American designer recognizable by the daring colors and unique prints she uses on feminine ensembles. She designs with the modern woman in mind and is committed to bringing out the beauty in women of all shapes, sizes, and colors. She has even been worn by former FLOTUS Michelle Obama on several occasions.
Jerome Lamaar is the creator of 5:31 JÉRÔME. The motto behind his brand is “Spirituality meets glamour, maximalism, and streetwear.” His Spring 2017 collection gives us all that with frayed denim, camouflage, and crystal embellishments. He’s been worn by some of the biggest fashion influencers, from Eva Chen to Beyoncé.
LaQuan Smith learned sewing and pattern-making from his grandmother. His innovative designs led to him being mentored by Vogue editor at large Andre Leon Talley. Early supporters of his clothes and accessories include many celebrities, such as Rihanna and Lady Gaga.
Carly Cushnie and Michelle Ochs founded Cushnie et Ochs in 2008. The brand is designed by women, for women. They teamed up together to create collections that “juxtapose bold sensuality with minimalist sophistication.” Cushnie et Ochs' garments focus on clean lines and the perfect fit.
Aurora James founded Brother Vellies with a goal of introducing the world to traditional African footwear and creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within Africa. Her brand produces handmade boots, shoes, and sandals in styles that maintain the spirit and durability of their African ancestry. All of the footwear is crafted in South Africa, Kenya, and Morocco.
Kenesha Sneed is a Los Angeles-based designer who creates ceramics and illustrations that will make perfect additions to your home. We became obsessed with her quirky, desert- and coastal- inspired work last year. She makes everything from bangles and hair combs to bowls and mugs. Fun fact: Solange Knowles is a fan of her work and even carries some Tactile Matter pieces in the Saint Heron shop.
Kyemah McEntyre started out by designing her own dashiki prom dress and, thanks to the almighty internet, then became an overnight success. The 20-year-old is currently a student at Parsons School of Design and sells her one-of-a-kind prom dresses online. She also recently debuted a full collection at NYFW.
Tashiann Yasmine is the designer behind the choker line Girl Strike. Her neck pieces are a mixture of denim, chains, and rings that add a flair of individuality to the simplest of outfits.
Petahjay founded the brand Project 96 (P96) on the belief that everyone in life has a project to fulfill. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, his designs draw inspiration from his African background.
Olivia Anthony combines her love of fashion with performing arts to create glamorous costume-like pieces. Stitched with the brightest of colors, these silhouettes are bursting with youthful spirit.
Recho Omondi is a Kenyan designer from the midwest. Founded in 2013, her womenswear brand offers clean construction and modern aesthetics.
VV Patchouli is a brand of leather goods stemmed from a collaborative effort of young designers and entrepreneurs. The high-quality leather bags come in pouches, backpacks, and clutches and the line also sells other leather accessories such as patches.
Aziza Nicole is an artisan who makes handcrafted accessories. The versatile jewelry line is for men and women and she uses different metals to create beautiful necklaces, earrings, bracelets, and rings.
Sheila Rashid is an independent designer based in Chicago. She creates simplistic unisex clothing as a way of confronting gender identity. Her brand has caught the attention of a variety of popular artists like Chance The Rapper and Zendaya.
Kerby Jean-Raymond created her brand Pyer Moss as a way to “reinvent classic athletic gear and uniforms by adding opulent cues and refining the fit.” The luxurious menswear line uses high-end materials to give sportswear a whole new look.
Andre D. Singleton and Justin Fulton are the creative forces behind Very Black. The New School alums' line of shirts, sweatpants, and bags aims to start a conversation about the beauty of embracing blackness.
Public School is one of the most recognizable brands in streetwear style. Designer duo Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow have extended their reach and collaborated with other major players in the game including Nike, DKNY, Fitbit, and J. Crew.
By now, you should already know all about Virgil Abloh. In addition to selling his designs for men and women at Barneys, he is also the creative director for Kanye West and a successful DJ. He established his luxury streetwear brand Off-White in late 2013 and recently teamed up with Nike for their EQUALITY campaign.
Darlene and Lizzy Okpo combined their design genius to create William Okpo. The womenswear brand is inspired by the '90s and features a sleek line of comfortable, feminine clothing.
Krystle Kotara was motivated to create her luxury lingerie brand Anya Lust in order to “encourage women and couples to live passionately, love deeply, and be open to exploring new things.” Designed specifically for women of color, her delicate pieces are made in a range of styles that are inclusively intimate.
You're most likely familiar with Phlemuns because of Solange. Designer James Flemons created many of the pieces featured in her phenomenal music video for "Don't Touch My Hair." (You can also shop the brand at the Saint Heron store.) His '70s inspired brand has also been worn by other celebrities like Rihanna, Brandy, Kelela, and Amandla Stenberg.
Sade Mims is the owner, founder, and designer behind Edasjewels. She utilizes the concept of sustainability to make jewelry out of refurbished materials. Her collections include delicate minimalistic pieces and artistic statement pieces.
Sadia Sisay founded beingU to bring high-quality lingerie to women of all skin tones. Her designs consider everything from a woman’s comfort to her curves.
Jacque Amadi runs the e-commerce site Adorned by Chi where she sells cute clothing and accessories that scream #BlackGirlMagic. Her brand has a variety of designs from anime-inspired pins to quirky T-shirts and throw pillows.
Frederick Anderson is a veteran in the fashion world with more than 20 years of experience. This year, he decided to release his own collection of clothing called “Black Like Me.” The womenswear line of gorgeous black, silver, and gold pieces is elegant and inspiring. According to his website, “The Frederick Anderson woman lives in the world and not in her home. She loves life and lives her life to the fullest. She writes her own rules in dressing and in life.”
Toronto-based online boutique Neïcy is the brainchild of Omnia Abdorbo and Maria Mihami. Focusing on modest fashion, the brand launched in response to the lack of options for Muslim fashionistas.
Rahma Mohamed's contemporary womenswear brand prides itself on its Ethiopian textile development created by artisans. Designed out of Australia, the brand is very focused on its African roots and craftsmanship.
Hannah Fesseha is the creator of Tazma Jewellery. The fine jewelry line contains gold accessories that are meant to show off the beauty of Ethiopian culture and it includes custom pendants and Wollo opal rings.
Basma Kahie is the founder of online boutique Basma K Collection. She sells a diverse line of hijabs and scarfs that are available in a wide variety of colors, including solids, ombrés, and prints. They also come in different fabrics such as chiffon and georgette.
Grace Wales Bonner is an award-winning menswear designer. Her luxurious clothing brand, Wales Bonner, is created with a hybrid of European and African approaches.
Olivier Rousteing is the creative director of Balmain. Need we say more? The French fashion designer’s creations have been worn by a number of A-listers like the Kardashians, Jennifer Lopez, and Justin Bieber. Early this year, he debuted Balmain’s first accessories collection.
Najma Hassan and Furdos Nurhussien created the brand Alene, which consists of elegant hijabs, dresses, skirts, and the chicest jacket coats.
Erica Young, of Erica M., designs limited collections of opulent, knitted lingerie. The brand describes its products as a sexier and more flattering version of traditional pantyhose and stockings and “forward thinking lingerie.”
Ebele Ojechi is a 23-year-old British-Nigerian designer behind the label BELE. Her and her identical twin sister, Chiamaka, work together to bring more diversity into sportswear.
Christopher John Rogers creates glamorous womenswear designs inspired by his Southern upbringing. His brand gives a modern take on celebratory dresses for femmes everywhere.
Inspire Psyche Terry by Psyche Terry is an affordable body inclusive lingerie line that comes in sizes small-4x and DD-DDD. As a mom and entrepreneur, Terry understands the changes that both a woman’s body and mindset can go through, which inspired her to create her line of regal romance-wear that any woman can feel good in. She was also featured in our body positive lingerie lineup.
Ade Hassan designs lingerie and hosiery for women of color under her brand Nubian Skin. Unlike many of the “nude” undergarments you find in your typical retailers, Hassan’s items actually cater to a variety of skin tones, as well as different shapes and sizes.
Beautifully Undressed, created by Annabelle Mu’azu, is a collection of fashionable lingerie, loungewear, swimwear, and seduction accessories. Mu’azu spent 15 years curating African art before following her passion for lingerie design.
Inspired by her mother, Diondra Julian founded the lingerie line Suzy Black Lingerie. Stating that “a woman’s femininity is one of her greatest assets,” the brand represents the idea of making time for yourself and giving yourself the gift of feeling beautiful.