2021 is the time to buy black fashion, and we have the guide for you so that you can mix your designer wears with a touch of blackness—our list of rising stars to already established couturiers. So before you spend your money on another label that does not need your support, here is the black fashion designers’ list to know in 2021. We showcase designers from Haute Couture to ready to wear black designers who are not only known for streetwear.
BLACK FASHION DESIGNERS
We love streetwear, and the new name on our lips is Tobi Egberongbe’s Mifland. In our minds, the designer is your next streetwear and leather accessories designer to watch. Whether you’re in the mood for neutrals or pops of colour, Egberongbe designs for every lifestyle. Based in Atlanta, Mifland products are created for ultimate functionality and contemporary style.
Founder Tobi Egberongbe is committed to reflecting influences from architecture, photography, and even furniture. Handmade and American-manufactured meet ultimate cool when Egberongbe is designing.
EUGENE TAYLOR BRAND
Unisex designed clothing is the new normal YSL always knew this and leading the influx should be upcoming designer Letesha Brady. Eugene Taylor Brand, her inclusive fashion house, incorporates a holistic mission to represent every fashion culture voice. Brady’s pieces visualize the future from voluminous and puffy gowns to a variety of mesh and patchwork. A unique sense of style combined with her background as a multi-disciplinary artist results in pure innovation. Celebrating Black culture, Brady’s most recent collection, “I am Diana”, honours Diana Ross and how the icon presented an image of unadulterated glamour and success for young Black women.
“As a Black woman designer, resources are limited to me being in a male-dominated field”, says Brady. “I have to work harder to be seen but, the passion I have for what it is I do helps me remain hopeful.”
Aside from fashion, Brady makes waves through her newly-founded organization. A survivor of domestic sexual abuse herself, Letesha Brady created Safe House, a refuge for healing from all forms of abuse. Brady is a truly impactful and multi-faceted designer.
“Life is born of woman.” An unlikely collection title for a men’s contemporary and streetwear label. Emeric Tchatchoua, Founder and Creative Director, is ahead of his time. He has the cool element.
Experimentation, boundary-pushing, and unusual yet successful design choices are the soul of his brand, 3.Paradis. Realism meets sophistication within Tchatchoua’s artistic style. Just ask Bella and Gigi Hadid, both recently donning their own 3.Paradis blazers. The streetwear brand knows what we lovers of luxury leisure want to rock with some J’s on like DJ Cyber 69 from Russia.
Let’s talk about textiles. Sindiso Khumalo is a genius on the subject, with a Central Saint Martins master’s in the niche and single-handedly designing all of her fabrics through multimedia methods such as watercolour and collage. Sustainability plays a significant part in her curation process, extending to her involvement at the United Nations on the issue.
Though her brand is based in Cape Town, Khumalo’s work has an impressive reach worldwide, from collaborations with Ikea to Milan Fashion Week and showcases at the Smithsonian Museum of African Art in D.C. Sindiso Khumalo’s clothing is guaranteed to propel you into her imagination with a dynamic touch of historical inspiration.
Nigerian designer, Frank Aghuno, knows how to work a sleeve. From feathers in unexpected places to toy cars as earrings, Aghuno wants women to feel fabulous ins his designs. He’s ready to wear line, Fruché to challenge norms and revitalize fashion expectations for the Nigerian woman. You’ll spontaneously fall head over heels for Frank Aghuno’s unique designs and complex detailing.
Rising designer Maximilian Davis is the epitome of cool. Hence A$AP Rocky being a fan. Simply scroll through his Instagram, and you’ll have a sudden urge to strut down a runway wearing a monochrome, structured look. However, Davis’ recent Spring/Summer 2021 collection has a deeper meaning.
Inspired by the heightened Black Lives Matter movement during Summer 2020, Davis chose to explore his own Trinidadian roots and research Carnival’s origins, which proved to be incredibly racist. J’ouvert’s goal was to draw on Carnival’s aesthetic while illustrating Black elegance and painting people of colour in a different light.
Seemingly boring fabric scraps are transformed into the ultimate arm candy at the hand of Natasha Fernandes-Anjo. Roop, an entirely handmade accessories shop, utilizes vintage fabrics to create all things “scrunch.” Fun little bags with stretchy handles are sure to put a smile on your face.
Fernandes-Anjo designs with sustainability in mind, making the art of upcycling chic. We hope to see Roop in your favourite boutique soon; buyers have been buzzing about this young talent over the past year.
While most American 17-year-olds were focused on what to wear to prom, Taofeek Abijako was launching his own clothing brand. Five years later, Head of State is an ever-growing, lively representation of youth culture blended with out-of-the-box thinking.
A Nigerian immigrant himself, Abijako honours his heritage through his label’s title and aesthetic. Head of State was named after a song by Nigerian activist and Afrobeat star Fela Kuti.
What is ‘slow fashion?’ The opposite of fast fashion, of course. James Flemons implements this sustainable and artistic approach within his L.A.-based label, Phlemuns. But Flemons not only redefines the fashion calendar, but he also cancelled gender norms through an entirely unisex brand.
Phlemuns is on their way to industry domination, beginning to seep into celebrity and public figures’ wardrobes by the day. Keke Palmer and Maddie Zeigler are some of James Flemons recent customers, which is no surprise as a simple browse on their site will get you hooked.
A pandemic simply cannot stop Tia Adeola, the Nigeria-born, London-raised, and New York-based designer disrupting the industry with her ruffles. Running a business during the coronavirus crisis is incredibly challenging, let alone launching a fashion label. Some would call it impossible, but not Adeola, whose designs have already been photographed on Gigi Hadid, Lizzo, and Dua Lipa.
Infused with her extensive art history research, Adeola’s designs bring a feminine touch to novel couture. Ruffles are Adeola’s best friend, sneaking their way onto many of her designs, including a 5th avenue-ready face mask. Pandemic-chic.
Luxury South-African designer Thebe Magugu can be categorized as an innovation to watch. Though his fashion week debut occurred recently in Paris 2020, Magugu has quickly earned favouritism among Zendaya, Issa Rae, and more. Magugu utilizes eye-catching hues and elegance to curate showstopping looks, creating a variety of ready-to-wear and capsule collections. Deconstructed suits adorned with bright colour palettes are his signature.
Thebe Magugu especially caught our attention with his eccentric education theme. For each new collection, Magugu chooses a title of a school subject from his college years. Spring 2017 was called “Geology,” while fall 2018 was “Home Economics,” and “African History” occurred in 2019.
Founded only five years ago by South African duo Maxwell Boko and Muso Potsane, Mmusomaxwell is an intermixture of African heritage and modern culture for the high-end woman. Tailoring and fit are essential for Boko and Potsane, who experiment with unconventional structures and silhouettes.
Although most of their following is concentrated in Africa, Mmusomaxwell dressed Beyoncé for the Global Citizen Festival in 2018.
Jamaica-born designer Edvin Thompson is bringing effervescent Caribbean style to Brooklyn. Utilizing his middle name, Theopolis, Thompson birthed a fresh new take on contemporary fashion called Theophilio. Whether you’re looking to star in a music video, attend a red carpet event, or simply be the best-dressed at a party, Thompson’s designs will surpass your goals.
Migration, his recent collection, provides much-needed social commentary for redefining immigration. Thompson argues that immigration is no threat but rather a beautiful representation of why people choose to create a new home for themselves.
The founder of brand Tongoro established in Dakar, Senegal, Sarah Diouf’s brand focuses on investing in local artisans and raising awareness of Senegal’s cultural fashion scene by raising awareness of Senegalese skilled tailoring, textiles and suppliers. The brand itself translates to “star” in the Central African Republic, where Diouf’s mother is.
Every look is named after an African city or region that connects to Diouf’s life, like the dramatic Gorée dress, named after the Gorée beach in Senegal or the Fitini bag, in Ivorian it translates to “small.” Graphic prints, African symbolism, vibrant colours with a voluminous performative effect in a variety of styles from jumpsuits to maxi dresses, it’s clearly for a proud fashionable woman that Beyoncé, Burma Boy, Naomi Campbell, Alicia Keys, and Iman have worn looks and showed support for the label. Since the celebrity support, the Senegal-based brand has become internationally known.
On social media and lookbooks, it’s Diouf herself as a one-woman show presenting her brand as an influencer, hairstylist, makeup artist, stylist, and creative director of her brand. Sarah Diouf documents her journey with her brand in the documentary, Made in Africa and the goal of championing the community of craftsmanship, tradition, and the transformation of Africa’s apparel industry. She has come a long way since we meet back in the day in Paris.
Silver, silver, silver. If silver is your metal of choice (calling all cool skin tones!), talk to Martine Ali, the designer behind her namesake’ jewellery and stuff‘ label. Sleek pieces are assembled by hand in New York City, explaining how her attraction to chains stems from subway gates. Who knew that the NYC transportation system could be translated into jewellery? Innovation at its finest.
Activism and fashion merge at Studio 189. Abrima Erwiah, a former executive at Bottega Veneta, teamed up with actress Rosario Dawson to launch a fashion brand entirely produced by artisans. While Erwiah and Dawson are not directly designing every piece within Studio 189, they represented African artisans, so buy black gives them a shout out in our minds.
Studio 189 is a clothing brand in tandem with a social movement. Through political, environmental, and social content, Erwiah and Dawson merge their beliefs with a platform for unknown artisans to flourish, creating jobs and teaching skills. Frequently collaborating with popular brands such as Fendi, Opening Ceremony, LVMH, and more, Erwiah and Dawson introduce their movement to the western luxury market. Dawson has come a long way since our hangouts in the Lower East Side of NYC!
CHRISTOPHER JOHN ROGERS
Over the past few weeks, Christopher John Rogers has been making a splash in the fashion and political worlds alike. Not to mention his being crowned 2020’s CFDA American Emerging Designer of the Year, Rogers took his signature vibrance to the Presidential Inauguration and made headlines by dressing Vice President Kamala Harris in symbolic purple.
Rogers began his independent business while working as a designer for Diane Von Furstenburg. In 2016, he began crafting made-to-order looks from his Brooklyn studio, which, needless to say… took off. Flip through any magazine, and you’ll spot his designs on a myriad of stars. J-Lo, Rihanna, and SZA are just several of his clients.
Patchwork and knits, but unlike anything you’ve seen before. Each piece designed at No Sesso is unique in its design. That’s why trio Pierre Davis, Autumn Randolph, and Arin Hayes are growing a Depop sensation into a high fashion mecca.
Non-conformity is the name of the game, literally – as the brand’s title of No Sesso is Italian for “no sex or gender.” Davis, Randolph, and Hayes are masters of illustrating the intersectionality between art and fashion.
A designer to the Royals, Grace Wales Bonner is a breakout star. Known for dressing Meghan Markle for her post-baby debut in 2019, Bonner has made waves from the U.K. to around the world. Her brand, Wales Bonner, was launched almost seven years ago after graduating from a prestigious design school, Central Saint Martins. Though she began with menswear, Bonner has since expanded to dressing women as well.
For Dior’s Resort 2020 collection, Bonner was enlisted to collaborate with the label to re-interpret the iconic New Look silhouette by drawing inspiration from African culture. Within her own brand, Bonner approaches luxury with a distinctive perspective, consisting of music, history, elevating the Black artist and intellectual, and redefining fashion.
Might as well change the U.S. Presidential Inauguration’s name to: “Inauguration by Sergio Hudson.” It would only fit, as Hudson designed not only one but two of the leading outfits for the ceremony. Michelle Obama sported his monochrome signature and made headlines, while Kamala Harris wore a sparkly dress of his for the post-ceremony events. Sergio Hudson runs his own LA-based luxury womenswear brand that is all about making a statement.
Bold colours and fun accessories are his cups of tea, even while Hudson was a contestant on Bravo’s Styled to Rock, a fashion design competition T.V. show produced by Rihanna. Hudson was personally selected by the hip-hop star to win the final prize.
Sometimes a single trip can change your life. For Aurora James, her luxury shoe brand, Brother Vellies, was conceived after her first visit to Africa. Inspired by native artisans and their timeless craftsmanship, James pursued her newfound goal of preserving and uplifting the artisanal talent for shoemaking across Africa.
By establishing workshops to create jobs for local talent in South Africa, Kenya, and Morocco, James launched a collaborative brand between her and African artists. Recently, she has released a collection in tandem with fashion favourite Pyer Moss.
25 BLACK FASHION DESIGNERS
However, Aurora James does not only strive to effect change across the world. During the U.S.’s tumultuous summer of 2020, James initiated the 15% Pledge, a call upon retailers to dedicate 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses.
Nigerian-Canadian designer Dumebi Andrea Iyamah has been on the radar since 2013 with her self-titled brand, Andrea Iyamah. Inspired by the vibrancy, African culture, and nature, Iyamah launched her brand at age 17 and bridges modern trends with nostalgic influences.
Swimwear was Iyamah’s claim to fame, with uniquely eccentric prints adorning conservative and playful silhouettes alike. Also, Iyamah designs ready-to-wear and custom gowns for bridal or special event purposes, seen on Kate Hudson, Ciara, Gabrielle Union, and many more.
ANIFA MVUEMBA OF HANIFA
Another pandemic success story, Anifa Mvuemba, is a rapidly rising designer despite all odds. Hanifa, her brand for “limitless women,” began almost accidentally. After dropping out of college and quitting her retail job, Mvuemba began to utilize her limited sewing skills to create custom looks and share them on Instagram. Learning design skills along the way, she began to gain a following and eventually massive media attention during this past May’s unconventional fashion week.
Breaking barriers in fashion’s fusion with technology, Mvuemba hosted a virtual fashion show for her “Pink Label Congo” collection with invisible 3-D models using Instagram’s IGTV platform. VIP’s such as Zendaya and Tracee Ellis Ross instantly became admirers, wearing her looks on magazine covers and more. Mumbai is also an integral member of the Black in Fashion Council.
LaQuan Smith’s designs have been gracing the red carpet on all of your favourite celebrities, but the Tom Ford-praised designer is only getting started. Despite his recent growth during the pandemic, Smith possesses a star-studded fan club since his brand’s beginnings, including Lady Gaga, Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, and Rihanna.
3-D leggings were LaQuan Smith’s premiere garment and now his powerful luxury womenswear brand making headlines in 2021. Shockingly denied by Parsons and FIT in his early days as a designer, Smith is truly an unstoppable example of what hard work and raw talent can accomplish.
Fllumaé Modest Ready to Wear
It is fashion month in the fashion meccas around the world. This Modest Fashion Friday, we head to New York fashion week, where Fllumaé FW21 Collection was launched this past Fall Winter 2021 in an online presentation. This collection speaks to the modest fashion market’s ever-growing market. It is a classic example that it is more about style than religion. Fashion Week Felt Inclusive with Black-Owned Brand’s Modest
Now that you have read about these wonderful groundbreaking black designers who is your personal all-star? Which creative speaks to your style aesthetic? Let us know leave a comment below or follow us on Instagram for more fashion news.