As February kicks off, we’re spotlighting Black designers who are making some of the most dynamic, thought-provoking clothing around the world. Some—like Pharrell Williams, Grace Wales Bonner, Christopher John Rogers, and Telfar Clemens—have already reached contemporary icon status. Others, including Idris Balogun, Kingsley Gbadegesin, and Anifa Mvuemba are rising stars to watch—before you know it, their work will be everywhere. Here’s a primer on the creative forces who are making their mark on the global fashion industry by pushing boundaries, challenging norms, experimenting with new and traditional techniques alike, and ultimately using their platforms to help bring awareness to their various cultures.
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“I’ve always wanted to celebrate Jamaica’s past, present, and future through my clothes,” the designer of Theophilio told W in a 2023 interview. “I wanted to help build a bridge from my country to the world.” Since launching Theophilio in 2016 via a runway show held inside a Brooklyn garage, Thompson has made his mark on the world of high fashion, winning the CFDA’s prize for American Emerging Designer of the Year and holding multiple New York Fashion Week shows that were the toast of the season.
Diotima designer Scott is also a Jamaica native, albeit one newer to the scene. Her first NYFW presentation debuted in September 2023—and made waves among the fashion crowd even weeks before she’d shown. But resortwear this brand is not. “I always find that hilarious,” Scott, told W of the false equivalency. “I think it’s just because I’m Jamaican and I make crochet, but there’s a lot of tailoring, there’s a lot of wool.” But the most exciting pieces from Diotima arguably are the ones that live in contrast to the crochet (see: a beautifully tailored wool suit and a pleated skirt from the spring 2024 collection).
Appointed the creative director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear market in 2023, Williams has emboldened the French house’s men’s designs with slick suiting moments and unconventional prints that make for a fun experience in the men’s fashion world.
Christopher John Rogers always makes use of the boldest colors and a touch of Southern flair in his collections—his most recent outing is full of the vibrant hues we’ve all come to adore and covet from his namesake brand.
Chloë Sevigny beams in a CJR look.
Known for his high-shine style, LaQuan Smith’s designs are sure to have you feeling a cut above the rest.
Beyonce served up renaissance realness in Laquan Smith.
The British-Jamaican designer Grace Wales Bonner has been a dominating force in the fashion world, all while being focused on the socioeconomic standing of our Black and brown brothers and sisters.
Pia Davis and Autumn Randolph
The co-creators of the brand No Sesso (which means “no sex/no gender” in Italian), focuses on creating pieces that challenge the status quo and welcome wearers from all walks of life.
Looks from the SS23 show.
Whimsical, delicate, and always fierce, jewelry designer Lorraine West’s contemporary pieces are handmade in New York City.
The Shooting Star Choker in 18k rose & white gold.
Awèt’s latest collection hones in on luxurious classics that are as timeless as they are comfortable.
Lauren Harwell Godfrey
Her first jewelry collection debuted in 2018 at Paris Fashion Week—since then, Godfrey has made a huge mark on the fine jewelry world. Drawing inspiration from the African diaspora and using precious stones and 18-karat gold, each piece is its own work of art.
Jason Rembert’s Aliétte designs have become a favorite for celebrities and streetwear stars alike—you’re just as likely to see his designs on red carpets as you are out on the town on a Friday night.
Brandon Blackwood has continued to make waves in the fashion world by way of his viral Kendrick trunk bag. The designer has also been exploring eyewear, as seen in this pair of chic sunglasses below.
This Brooklyn-born jewelry designer’s collection includes playful motifs like mushrooms and reflective mirrors.
Since launching her brand Chelsea Paris in 2012, Theresa Ebagua has created styles that exude a fresh, jovial energy while remaining effortlessly chic.
Heim launched BREAD in 2020 as a safe haven for those curly haired individuals looking for clean, uncomplicated products to keep hair healthy.
TOVE is a womenswear brand that blends striking silhouettes with unique feminine elements that create a versatile wardrobe ready for any occasion. Perry cofounded the label with Holly Wright.
Sergio Hudson’s brand took off in 2014—since then, it’s become a favorite of Vice President Kamala Harris, Beyoncé, and house muse Keke Palmer. Over the past 10 years, the South Carolina native has consistently created designs that exemplify elegance and poise.
Fantasia stuns in custom Sergio Hudson.
In addition to being the creative director at Salvatore Ferragamo, Maximilian Davis pulls from his Trinidadian-Jamaican roots for his own namesake brand.
Tems in FW23 leopard print long coat.
Gbadegesin’s brand, K.ngsley, is known for its playful, subversive jewelry that incorporates PrEP pills as a design motif—recently he also launched fabulous swimwear and accessories.
Boozer, a self-taught jewelry designer, founded Knature the Label in 2017. The brand’s mission is to create pieces that connect with the wearer on a deeper level.
Nigerian-born Iyamah always stays true to her culture in her designs, mixing traditional African silhouettes to create a unique wow factor.
Malaika, the CEO of Brown Girl Jane Fine Fragrance, worked with her team to create ethically sourced scents that smell amazing and complement the modern woman perfectly.
A proud advocate for queer rights and equality, Phlemuns designer James Flemons continues to push boundaries with his fluid designs that anyone can feel good in.
Winner of the 2022 LVMH Karl Lagerfield Prize, Balogun’s Winnie pieces bear a fresh, modern take on menswear staples.
Khiry designer Jameel Mohammed highlight Black lifestyle and culture through his luxurious, modern creations.
Already one of the best-known Black designers of this generation, Telfar Clemens successfully tapped into the energy of New York City with his iconic Telfar shopping bag (dubbed “The Bushwick Birkin” for its status appeal). Because the bags are in such high demand, the designer only releases them through intermittent, limited drops.
Preston came back to New York Fashion Week after a three-year hiatus—and it was like he never left. The youthful, West Coast-inflected designs lent a particularly laid-back vibe to the runway.
Maxwell Osborne, the founder of AnOnlyChild (a label whose wears are completely upcycled) and one of the cofounders of Public School, has looked to his culture and upbringing for his most recent collections.
Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece
The duo behind the accessories label ASHYA work to merge utility and style in their elevated travel essentials.
Rees is the creator behind 10 Thousand Things, a brand he founded with fellow self-taught jewelry designer, Ron Anderson. The two share a love for extraordinary stones and sculptural designs.
New York-based makeup artist turned beauty brand maven Kamara received the ultimate cosign from Pat McGrath on her skills with a brush. Now, Kamara’s own beauty brand is out and available for all the girlies.
Bold colors and luxe textures that complement all the right curves are exactly what you will find in Anifa Mvuemba’s label, Hanifa.
Anima Iris was created for women seeking a bold, vibrant piece that will capture a room’s attention. Drawing inspiration from Ghanian and Cameroonian aesthetic cultures, Tanjong creates designs that are fresh, yet rooted in tradition.
This rising jewelry designer has focused on bringing back the classic chain-style jewelry that dominated the early 2000s. Her bold designs incorporate safety pins, lockets, and hooks—offering infinite layering possibilities.
Céline Arbuah Metzler
Iman Ama, founded in 2021 and based in Switzerland, is an accessories brand that hones in quality and sustainable practices to create pieces that will stand the test of time—both in design and fabrication. Metzler launched this brand alongside her business partner, Sara Cooper.
Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka
The mother-daughter duo behind House of Aama creates clothing as a vehicle for Black storytelling. Every piece is manufactured in Los Angeles.
House Of Aama
Curves by Sean Brown is an independent design brand that puts a modern twist on homeware.
Founded in 2009, the brand Mateo was originally launched as a men’s jewelry label. New York-based designer Harris moved into the women’s category in 2014, which gave him the opportunity to blend elements of modern art and the feminine form in his pieces.
Swiss Blue Topaz Pear drop earring
EDAS was founded in 2015 upon two core values: craftsmanship and innovation. A lifestyle brand that caters to the eclectic soul, Sade Mims’s accessories label thrives on community and cohesive storytelling.
TOFE, founded in 2020, was launched to bridge the gap between unique statement pieces and timeless wardrobe staples.
Amy Akudo Iheakanwa
Accessories brand Shekudo is based in Lagos, Nigeria, where Iheakanwa collaborates with local artisans and implements traditional shoemaking practices to create her pieces.
The Jane & Tona rope slides in action.
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