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Positioned to make strides in the fashion industry, several emerging Black fashion designers are catching the world’s attention. From a Jamaican immigrant to a Brooklyn-raised creative, these up-and-coming designers are pushing the boundaries of fashion and setting season trends. As the fashion industry continues to diversify and showcase Black talent, here are 10 emerging Black fashion designers from across the globe that are galvanizing the current landscape.
Edvin Thompson, founder and creative director of contemporary clothing brand Theophilio, has presented a fresh take on embracing cultural heritage. Born in Kingston, Jamaica, the young creative has lived in a number of cities within the U.S., which have all influenced his unique design outlook. What stands out about Thompson’s label is its weaving of social commentary and personal stories of Jamaican heritage. By putting these stories at the forefront, his designs have caught the attention of celebrities like actress Keke Palmer, model Alton Mason, athlete Sha’Carri Richardson and more. Last year, Thompson took home the award for American Emerging Designer of the Year at the CFDA Fashion Awards.
Although Maximilian Davis was born in and resides in England, his Trinidadian-Jamaican identity remains a focal point of his design ethos. Davis’ debut SS21 collection under the non-profit talent incubator Fashion East represented not only an eye-catching display of rich color and seamless designs but also the importance of sharing personal narratives through design. His eponymous label Maximilian has recently been on a trailblazing path, catching the attention of Rihanna, Michaela Coel, Kim Kardashian, A$AP Rocky and more. Davis is set to showcase his final collection with Fashion East on Tuesday, February 22.
Head of State
Founded by Taefeek Abijako, the Brooklyn-based brand Head of State takes a different approach to evolving menswear and womenswear silhouettes. Instead of referencing pop culture, Abijako’s designs are inspired by books and what he envisions the characters to look like. Originally from Lagos, Nigeria, Abijako also embeds elements of his cultural heritage across the pieces that play with an array of cutouts and subtle structural shapes.
Kenneth Ize embraces bold patterns, and the fabrics that encapsulate his vivid designs are produced in his factory in Lagos, Nigeria. Although he grew up and attended school in Austria, Ize’s eponymous label is shining new light on traditional West African textiles. The brand’s positioning of hand-woven textiles illustrates just how playful using every color of the rainbow can be. Ize was a finalist for the 2019 LVMH Prize and his cross-cultural pieces have been worn by Beyoncé, Naomi Campbell and Donald Glover.
Johnny Nelson Jewelry
Based in New York City, Johnny Nelson’s jewelry label takes inspiration from pop culture and historical figures. Founded in 2017, his designs pay homage to music, literature and cultural milestones as illustrated by his unique rings that feature faces of renowned figures like James Baldwin to Biggie Smalls. Nelson’s pieces are composed of an array of metals and gemstones and have been worn by Lil Nas X, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Colin Kaepernick and more.
Central Saint Martins graduate Feben is reclaiming the narrative surrounding Black identity. Inspired by Eartha Kitt, Maya Angelou, and Beyoncé, the London-based designer’s pieces find the balance between strength and fun. Although Feben’s technical details include vibrant colors and voluminous silhouettes, her designs excel due to a blend of personal cultural experiences. Feben’s pieces have captured the attention of Erykah Badu, Janelle Monáe and Michaela Coel, in addition to working with Beyoncé as a costume designer and stylist for the “Brown Skin Girl” segment of Black Is King.
Community-minded brand No Sesso was founded in Los Angeles by Pierre Davis. The brand’s name is Italian for “no sex/no gender” and its mission is to be inclusive of people of all colors and identities through an array of prints, fabrics and patchwork knits. As a genderless brand, No Sesso is working to elevate what clothing can be by taking a deeper look at the culture and future of gender expression.
Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Thebe Magugu’s label is embracing the everyday experience of men and women. Through sleek and contemporary dress notes, the is crafting a timeless catalog that also pays tribute to the multidimensional culture in Africa. In addition to its cultural awareness, one of the landmarks of Magugu’s label is its drive to address social and political issues through fashion. In 2019, Magugu won the LVMH prize, becoming the first African designer to do so. Celebrities that have donned the South African label include Issa Rae and Miley Cyrus.
Des Pierrot started his label to design clothes that he would want to wear. Based in Los Angeles, Pierrot’s hand-made pieces are inspired by his lifestyle, hip-hop music and his experiences growing up. The emerging label has no set gender labels and features signature design elements like multi-pocketed trousers, embellished pants and altered knitwear. At its core, Pierrot wants to challenge everyone to embrace their individuality.
Emeric Tchatchoua blends pop culture and streetwear with his label 3.PARADIS. Based in Montreal, Canada, Tchatchou’s brand was created as an alternative to traditional luxury and harbors a youthful zest that bridges the realities of rebellion, art and culture. As the “3” represents equilibrium and “PARADIS” represents joy, the emerging brand wants to strike the balance between youth-centered ambitions and evolving cultural ideologies.