Black-owned beauty businesses have been on a well-applauded rise in recent years. But when it comes to diversity in fashion, Black-led labels, especially in the luxury market, still feel like a rarity—save a few exceptions. Olivier Rousteing has been creative director at Balmain for almost nine years (since he was 25!); in 2018 Virgil Abloh was tapped to run menswear at Louis Vuitton while also running his own label, Off-White. Shayne Oliver started cult label Hood By Air in 2006, went on hiatus in 2017, and just announced that he’s reinstating the brand after designing for Helmut Lang. Nigerian-born Duro Oluwu has been a London staple since 2004. Carly Cushnie has been in the game a minute, first with womenswear line Cushnie et Ochs, and currently, after splitting with her design partner, as CEO and creative director of the luxury label Cushnie. And, of course, we aren’t physically capable of forgetting the first Black woman to run a luxury label, Queen Rihanna of house Fenty.
Representation in fashion campaigns and runway shows has also gradually improved thanks to powerful conversations urging labels to hire models of different ages, races, body types and gender identities. But at the same time, every fashion week seems to unleash at least one or two offensive, appropriative designs that feel like a giant step backwards. (Looking at you, Burberry and Comme des Garçons.)
That’s why we’re pledging to put our dollars behind brands with talented creatives of colour at their helm, who are disrupting the industry and creating a new narrative—not just during Black History Month, but all year long.
From homegrown companies on the come up, to streetwear labels we’re saving up for, to international superstars dressing both Solange and Beyoncé Knowles, the range is real. Here are 13 fashion brands featuring hype Black designers who bring fresh perspectives, exquisite taste and ingenuity to the sartorial conversation. Plus, many of the makers are weaving their unique identities and diversity straight into their pieces.
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Black-Owned Fashion Brands
After studying fashion design at FIT and working under houses like Tory Sport and Tommy Hilfiger, Glemaud founded his own label in 2006. Focusing on elevated, bright staples with a unique edge, the Haitian-born creative’s line is joyful and optimistic. Glemaud actually credits Selena Gomez for having opened the brand’s global client base when she wore a slick red number from the designer in a Vogue 73 questions video. Now it’s been worn by Sienna Miller, Justine Skye and Issa Rae, and the designer can’t keep anything in stock.
Geometric Turtleneck, $555, shopbop.com