Black artists have been at the forefront of multiple various movements including music, film, and of course, fashion. There are several black designers whose creativity have turned the fashion industry on its head. They have influenced the style of many and yet some are just now realizing that black-owned can mean luxury too. Recognize that there is so much talent out there and how important it is to educate yourself and others on black-owned businesses and brands. Here are five luxury fashion brands owned by dynamic and innovative black designers.
Telfar is a unisex line founded in 2005 by Telfar Clemens. Clemens was designing genderless pieces long before other designers could even get their heads wrapped around the concept. One of the brand’s more popular items is a vegan leather tote-style bag embossed with the label’s ‘TC’ logo on it. Inspired by department store totes, this bag has steadily become the “It” bag. In 2017, Clemens won the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)/Vogue Fashion Fund. The same year, his studio, which is located in Brooklyn’s Bushwick neighborhood, received a nomination for Accessory Designer of the Year from the CFDA. His totes have now been coined “The Bushwick Birkin”. The Telfar bag has been spotted on artists such as Solange, Selena Gomez, A$AP Ferg, Bella Hadid, and it appeared at the 2019 Met Gala on Moonlight actor Ashton Sanders, who was accompanying Clemens.
Queens, New York native, LaQuan Smith, started his brand at the age of 21. Since its formal debut in 2013, the brand has gained much notoriety globally for its distinctive garments and details. The brand has collaborated with REVOLVE on its first ever exclusive capsule with a retailer in the US. Smith has also teamed up with UK fashion retailer Asos.com. Smith’s designs have sparked interest among celebrities including Beyonce, Rihanna, Cardi B and Kim Kardashian, all of whom were early supporters of the designer.
Cushine is a women’s ready-to-wear and bridal brand designed by Carly Cushnie. Cushnie established the brand in 2008 with the desire to serve the modern woman. The Cushnie Collection is artfully tailored to achieve the perfect fit for the female form. Her pieces are crafted with clean lines and have a masterful balance of proportion, structure and fluidity. The brand has received many accolades such as The Ecco Domani Award in 2009, a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2011, and a nominee for the CFDA Swarovski Award in 2012. Influential women including Michelle Obama, Gal Gadot, Lupita Nyong’o, Ava Duvernay and many more have worn pieces from the Cushnie Collection.
Hanifa is a contemporary ready-to-wear apparel line for women. Their feminine and chic collection features an array of colors and textures that cater to the natural curves of a woman’s physique. The founder of the fashion label Hanifa, Anifa Mvuemba, was looking forward to holding her first runway show at New York Fashion Week 2020 but had to cancel those plans due to COVID-19. She quickly adapted and came up with an innovative new way to unveil her latest designs. In May of 2020, Mvuemba held a virtual fashion show, streamed over Instagram Live, in which each piece appeared in 3D against a black backdrop, as if worn by invisible models on a runway. Mvuemba has managed to use technology and social media to build a thriving direct-to-consumer business and has won over the likes of Lizzo, Kelly Rowland, and Kylie Jenner.
Off-White is a streetwear label founded by Virgil Abloh in 2012. According to its website, the products represent “Current culture at a taste-level particular to now.” From his first label Pyrex 23 to the massively successful Off-White label, Abloh is reaching new heights for black designers. He currently holds the position as the Creative Director of the luxury fashion house Louis Vuitton. The Off-White label is a hit amongst celebrities such as Rihanna, Travis Scott, Kylie Jenner, Future and many more.
With a list like this, it is hard to not get the urge to splurge on a new designer piece to add to your closet. Next time you consider treating yourself to some luxury clothing and accessories, keep black-owned brands in mind.