Regardless of the cultural arena, black designers continue to define the fashion industry. Inspired by art, sports, immigrant experiences and more, fashion is an art form that connects the black diaspora. Due to the long-standing influence and impact of black designers in the industry, you should support black-owned fashion brands before and after Black History Month. Reflecting the fusion of affinities, ethnicities, ethics, and interests of black designers, these six fashion brands are the perfect way to end Black History Month in style.
Tia Adeola by Tia Adeola
Tia Adeola has been worn by SZA, Kali Uchis, Flo Milli and many more. The 24-year-old launched her eponymous label while pursuing an undergraduate degree in culture and media at The New School. With drawings almost resembling those in a high school PA European history textbook, it’s obvious he’s putting the degree to good use.
The brand, formerly known as SlashedbyTia, is known for its Renaissance-inspired designs and is largely informed by Adeolas’ passion for art history. The Nigerian and UK-raised designer indulges her interests while battling marginalized blacks who appear in European art as slaves or buffoons. Paying homage to these people, Adeola set out to start a business that explores Renaissance muses and society, while showcasing black women in elements previously reserved for white women. Her vision gave life to a combination that shames the Sistine Chapel and is now her signature: Black Women in Ruffles.
Hardies Hardware by Tyshawn Jones
Skateboarding culture and fashion have become almost inseparable, even outside of streetwear. While most skateboarders dream of getting a sponsorship with one of the biggest brands in the industry (this is where I have to mention Supreme), Tyshawn Jones, Thrasher Skater of the Year 2018, has decided of to become the brand with Hardies Hardware.
Hardies started as a facetious concept among Jones’ friends of the Illegal Civilization skate team, a hardware store that also sells clothing, but was launched in collaboration with his friend Na-kel Smith in 2014. The brand now offers a mix of t-shirts, knit sweaters and staying true to its identity as a cruise board skate company. However, it is the classic New York Hardies trucker cap that is most worth buying. The tribute to Jones’ hometown reflects his efforts to maintain representation of the East Coast in a sport too often associated with the West Coast.
MATTE brand by Briana Wilson
I love showing real women in clothes for real women to buy, said Briana Wilson.
Wilson, founder of MATTE, approaches her designs with a commitment to minimalism and realism. The 24-year-old designer launched the brand in 2014 with simple bodysuits modeled by non-agency models. Her most recent Fall / Winter 1992 collection features strappy sets, mini skirts and crocodile jackets cropped in taupe and chocolate nudes. Wilson did not stray from his roots, however. Its MATTE FRAME collection “includes loungewear and tight-fitting sweaters. Wilsons’ sleek and simple design ethic reminds us that style can be comfortable and simple is sexy.
Asata Mais by Asata Mais
Whether it’s jeans, tops or cardigans, patchwork patterns have been flooding the fast fashion industry for months. Needless to say, the trend got tired. However, the Asata Maiss patchwork shoulder bags are the perfect spin to rekindle the craze.
Diane von Furstenberg’s former company stumbled upon her eponymous label’s formula after searching for a lasting way to refresh the classic ’90s silhouette. Her choice to repurpose vintage denim fabrics in shoulder bags is not only excellent for the environment, this resulted in unique and handcrafted colorful pieces. With an Asata Mais purchase, you will look fabulous while being reassured in the fact that you have reduced waste. And most importantly, no one can break your style!
Telfar by Telfar Clemens
There’s a good chance anyone with an internet presence has heard of Telfar. The brand has been particularly acclaimed by the general public after calls for social change over the past summers prompted consumers to spend money on brands owned by blacks. This movement, combined with increased use of robots on site and unanticipated demand, has resulted in scarcity. Suddenly, countless social media posts pining for the classic shopping bag went viral. More recently, Telfar announced collaborations with Converse and Gap.
It’s hard to believe the viral brand is the same as Telfar Clemens, an American Liberian raised mostly in Queens, New York, who launched in 2005 with a simple shopping bag. The bag was initially popularized among queer and black youth in Brooklyn, but dealers made it more difficult for the original audience to secure the product. Recognizing the sudden scarcity, Clemens launched a pre-order program in August, intending to curb any idea of exclusivity surrounding the bag.
While Clemens takes a stand against resellers, he stays true to Telfars’ motto: Not for you for everyone. Telfars’ efforts to keep the bag accessible prompted the industry to envision an idea of luxury that doesn’t involve elitism or exclusion. As the proud owner of a medium olive green Telfar shopping bag, I can assure you that (if you can grab one) the impeccably designed and extremely sturdy product is well worth the investment!
Phlemuns by James Flemons
Many have characterized Phlemuns, founded by James Flemons, as a fashion company for the future. It’s true that the sexist label has proven that fashion doesn’t have to adhere to the gender binary, but Flemons doesn’t design for the future. He builds a timeless legacy pulling from the past: I treat clothing like those timeless stamps that will last, Flemons shares in an interview with SSENSE. It’s like I’m leaving breadcrumbs of myself that will exist forever.
Flemons creates these timeless pieces by analyzing black art and fashion from the last century. The designer particularly admires the fluid genre elements of ’70s African American fashion, and his 2017 denim capsule comes entirely from denim from thrift stores. The attraction of the company is not its constant evolution, but the Flemish ability to recognize which elements of the past will speak to the public today.
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