From established names to rising talents, indie makers, and more
As the Black Lives Matter movement gains momentum around the world, and people continue to protest in the streets, share information and resources online, and, perhaps most importantly, reach into their purses to make donations to a number of causes, many have begun thinking about how we can keep this energy going as we push forward in our mission to dismantle institutional racism.
With changing our own behaviour and educating ourselves high on the agenda, another area to look at is where we spend our money and who we choose to buy from – particularly given much of the fashion industry’s failure to get involved with the fight for equality beyond posting an empty black square and a quote by Martin Luther King.
Now more than ever, then, we should be supporting and uplifting the talents of Black designers – of which there is, unsurprisingly, an abundance. From Mowalola, Martine Rose, and Samuel Ross in the UK, Telfar Clemens, Pyer Moss, and No Sesso on the other side of the Atlantic, and countless others around the world. a new generation of Black creatives are making waves across the industry, and in many cases, giving back to the communities that surround them.
Despite this, Black designers are still disproportionately represented by major shopping sites and stores. To remedy this, last week, Aurora James launched the Fifteen Percent Pledge: an initiative encouraging some of the industry’s biggest retailers to hand over 15 per cent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses, in a bid to bring some much-needed diversity to fashion’s rails and give better representation to overlooked talent.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a definitely-not-exhaustive list of 30 established and up-and-coming brands spanning high-end fashion, sustainable clothing, handmade accessories, and more that we think you should definitely check out. Make sure you sign the pledge here, too.
Established 15 years ago in New York, Telfar Clemens’ eponymous brand has been inclusive from the very beginning. Genderless and affordable, in comparison to most luxury fashion brands, Clemens’ ethos has never changed. Taking the meaning of innovation to another level, his past shows have seen attendees transported to a Renaissance banquet, a musical, and one pretty raucous gig.
In 2017, Clemens won the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund initative and invested in the production of his most prolific piece, the Telfar shopping bag – also known as the ‘Bushwick Birkin’ – which has since come to be known as the bag of a generation.
TOTAL LUXURY SPA
Starting as a zine before branching off into a streetwear brand, the founders of Total Luxury Spa are all about their community. Often using their profits to donate to various causes, such as helping a wellness chef in South Los Angeles save his restaurant, the Dazed 100 designers previously told us: “We believe through TLS we can do our part to create a more level playing field when it comes to opportunity in our community, help uplift creative talent where we see it, and challenge some of the sins of capitalism.”
Shop at Total Luxury Spa.
Fusing together fashion with movement and performance, 2020 Dazed 100 designer and dancer Saul Nash’s collections are centred around self-expression. Established by the RCA grad two years ago, the label fills the divide between luxury menswear and sportswear.
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Since founding Pyer Moss in 2013, New York-based designer Kerby Jean-Raymond has continuously used his brand to fight the good fight and show how politics and fashion can occupy the same space. From his SS16 show, which was centred on police brutality, to the year of our lord 2020, Jean-Raymond’s designs have pushed powerful conversations and dialogues regarding societal issues.
Beyond the messages in his collections, Jean-Raymond’s ongoing Reebok collaboration was launched in 2017 and has seen him successfully merge the luxury aspect of Pyer Moss with Reebok’s sportswear flair.
Continuously working to dismantle elitism in fashion, Samuel Ross – founder and creative director of A-COLD-WALL* – merges fashion, art, and architecture in his designs, and has previously collaborated with brands including Converse, Diesel, Nike, and Oakley.
Last week, the London-based designer announced a £25,000 creative fund for Black-owned businesses, as well as a £10,000 donation to those on the front lines of the Black Lives Matter movement. No stranger to altruistic acts, in 2019 Ross donated all of his NEWGEN bursary fund to up and coming designer Eastwood Danso. He has also worked with Nike and Dazed to mentor 44 design students from Central Saint Martins.
CHRISTOPHER JOHN ROGERS
Last November, Louisiana-born designer Christopher John Rogers took home the top prize at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, following in the footsteps of Telfar Clemens and Kerby Jean-Raymond. Shortly after, he was announced as the front of Net-A-Porter’s Vanguard project, designing an exclusive collection for the retailer earlier this year. Full of bright colours, exceptional evening wear, and statement pieces, the joy Rogers’ designs exude is exactly what the world needs more of now.
Shop at Net-a-Porter.
With traditional bold colour and Nigerian crafting techniques a vital part of his brand, Kenneth Ize’s bright vision has seen him become an LVMH Prize finalist. Earlier this year, he debuted a unisex capsule collection with Browns, as part of their ‘Conscious Edit’, with a series of trousers, a double-breasted fringed coat, and blazers among the sustainable offering.
Shop at Browns.
Drawing from her West Indian background, RCA graduate Bianca Saunders challenges stereotypes regarding black masculinity and gender within her designs.
You may recognise Claire Yurika Davis from the Netflix show Next In Fashion, but the London-born designer was making clothes far before she appeared on the contest. Founded in 2013, Hanger is a sustainable label centred around the creation of innovative garments made primarily from latex.
Shop at Hanger Inc.
Debuting her BA collection Psychedelic back in 2017, Nigerian-born designer Mowalola Ogunlesi has gained fans in the form of Steve Lacy, Megan Thee Stallion, Solange, and Naomi Campbell. Drawing inspiration from a wide range of influences, the London-based creative explores gender roles, politics, and identity through her bold, provocative collections.
Raised in South London to Jamaican and English parents, Grace Wales Bonner has always used her exceptional artistry as a means to express different societal narratives in regards to race. In addition to heading up her own label, the designer has also collaborated with Dior’s Maria Grazia Chiuri for the luxury brand’s Cruise 2020 show, and took over The Serpentine Gallery for her exhibition A Time for New Dreams.
More than anything, LA-based label No Sesso is a family and lifestyle above all. Founded by designer Pierre Davis and co-director Arin Hayes, the brand has community at its heart, and seeks to tell stories through every garment it makes. In February 2018, No Sesso made its New York Fashion Week debut, with Davis making history as the first-ever trans woman to present a show on the schedule.
Shop on Depop.
Using the traditional wrapping technique employed to make Japanese Furoshiki bags, Natasha Fernades Ajo of Roop makes sustainable mini-totes with a unique and cute scrunchie style handle. Every single bag is handmade from deadstock and vintage fabrics – making each of the pieces totally one of a kind.
Shop on Instagram.
In the 13 years since menswear designer Martine Rose first landed on the London fashion scene, the brand has rightfully attained cult status. Drawing heavily on the South London subcultures she grew up amongst, including the 90s rave scene, Rose’s sporadic runway shows have become some of the most anticipated on the fashion week schedule.
Rising to fame after her designs were seen on the likes of Gigi Hadid and Kali Uchis, The New School graduate Tia Adeola started her label (formerly known as Slashed by Tia) in her university dorm room. A former art history student, Tia’s designs are heavily influenced by the Renaissance era’s opulent aesthetics.
Shop at Slashed By Tia.
Martinique-born and Paris-raised designer Marvin Desroc first caught our eye last year at the CSM MA AW19 show, where he sent models out onto the runway sporting sheer white and black crocheted tops. Expressing a subversive and softer aspect of masculinity through his garments, Desroc represents a generation of young designers dedicated to thinking beyond gender roles.
Exploring her dual Indian-Nigerian heritage throughout her work, NEWGEN designer Priya Ahluwalia has not only been an LVMH Prize finalist and being featured on the Forbes 30 under 30 European Arts and Cultures list since her graduation in 2018. Upcycling deadstock since the start of her career, sustainability is an integral aspect of her brand ethos.
The brainchild of London-based designer Mia Joseph, Myae was founded in 2019 and quickly became one of Depop’s top selling brands. In the time since, the sheer, pieced-together tops and minidresses that form the core of the line have found fans in the likes of Jorja Smith, Mabel, and more.
Shop at Myae.
A Dazed 100 alum, Wekaforé Jibril’s brand was created with the purpose of honouring his late grandfather who was a tailor, as well as showcasing to the world the talent and creativity available on the African continent. Now based in Barcelona, the designer is also at the core of a collective of people embracing African aesthetics called Voodoo Children’s Club.
Shop at Wekafore.
Founded in 2012 by trio Hussein Suleiman, Abderrahmane Trabsini and Jefferson Osei, the Amsterdam-based label is a go-to for closet staples. Creating both womenswear and menswear, the childhood friends draw inspiration from aspects of culture on the African continent to design two contemporary, wearable, and relevant collections a year.
Shop at Daily Paper.
A member of the Class of COVID-19, Feben Vemmenby graduated from the Central Saint Martins MA womenswear course right in the middle of the pandemic. Her graduate collection, "It’s Not Right, But It’s Okay" (yes, in direct reference to that Whitney song), explored what it means to be a black woman. The collection features an unexpected blend of heavy prints which work together to create an unlikely beautiful match.
It’s not often that within a few years of graduating your clientele includes Rihanna, Burna Boy, and Jorja Smith, but when your talent is similar to that of British-Nigerian designer Tolu Coker it comes at no surprise. Since finishing her studies at Central Saint Martins in 2017, Coker has continued to explore the complexities within identity politics through her artisan designs and unique craftsmanship.
Spencer Badu is a born and bred Toronto native who started his own eponymous brand when he began college in 2015. Drawing on the Bauhaus movement within much of his work, Badu breaks free from the gender constraints often found in streetwear, with all of his collections designed to be gender-neutral.
Shop at Spencer Badu.
Describing her products as the “tiny bags that you Aunty would probably wear to church on Sunday”, South London born-and-raised designer Francesca Kappo hand-makes all her pieces in her own flat. Repurposed using leftover and archive materials, the elegant mini bags retail at just £75 each.
Shop at Flat Fifteen.
Multifaceted to say the least, Tremaine Emory has always been up to something – whether it be co-founding No Vacancy Inn with Acyde or working closely with the likes of Virgil Abloh and Kanye West. In September, he launched his own label Denim Tears and has since gone on to design a capsule collection with Levi’s which explored African-American history.
Shop at Denim Tears.
SAMI VIRO VINTAGE
In April 2016, model, stylist, and creative director Sami Viro launched her eco-conscious brand Sami Viro Vintage. Her first collection, entitled EcoTerror was made entirely of vintage materials and garments upcycled into a modern series of looks. Teaming up with Heron Preston for SS20, Viro reworked pieces from the designer’s denim archive, as part of a collection called Natural Disaster.
Shop at Sami Viro.
Designer Adebayo Oke-Lawal started Orange Culture almost a decade ago, making his debut at Lagos Fashion and Design Week. In September he landed at NYFW with his collection The Flower Boy, which played with asymmetrical silhouettes and meanings of masculinity.
Described as ‘wearable art’, Beats Byaree is a line of handcrafted jewellery made by Brooklyn-based and Philadelphia native Areeayl Goodwin. In September, Goodwin made Indya Moore a moving pair of earrings which had images of 18 murdered trans women in golden, rectangle frames as a tribute and celebration of their lives. More recently, Goodwin’s unique creations have been spotted on Kelly Rowland’s cover art for her latest single “Coffee”.
Shop at Beads Byaree.
Founded by former Dazed 100 designer James Flemons in 2013, LA-based label Phlemuns’ subtly sexy, androgynous clothing has found fans in the likes of Tinashe, Miley Cyrus, and Solange. In fact, if you’re not already familiar with his work, it’s likely you’ll have unwittingly come across it, given he dressed the singer and her cast of dancers in the video for “Don’t Touch My Hair”.
2019 was a big year for Thebe Magugu, given he not only launched a zine, entitled Faculty Press, celebrating the young, creative community of South Africa, but also took home the LVMH Prize and its prize fund to develop his blossoming label. Drawing inspiration from South Africa and its history, the rising designer seeks to tell stories through his clothing, with his SS20 collection inspired by the country’s female revolutionaries who fought back against apartheid.
Shop at 24S.