Learn More About The 8 Black Designers Showing At NY Fashion Week

Telfar - September 6th at 6pm

Ten years before genderless garmentry was truly topical, a teenage designer in Queens named Telfar Clemens had already quietly launched his uniquely unisex line. Telfar Clemens doesn’t call himself an activist, but his work is bringing change to fashion nonetheless. Inclusivity, which only became cool industry-wide within the last couple of years, is exactly what the designer’s eponymous brand has been advocating since it was founded in 2005. Since then he’s reached radical heights—designing a White Castle uniform capsule with proceeds paying bail for minors held on Rikers Island, receiving a retrospective at the Berlin Biennale, winning the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award, and coming out with a wild, collaborative collection for Next Century, the experimental concept store inside favorite New York discount designer outlet Century 21.

The Telfar brand is built on Clemens’ consistency in honoring the concept of community with a democratic approach to clothing. Telfar provides for the truly fashionable post-identity generation of the moment, rallying the label’s fanbase with a bold collectivist maxim: “It’s not for you—it’s for everyone.”

That has made him incredibly relevant today, leading to more people buying into his genderless clothing and his “Shopping Bags” (when they aren’t sold out, of course). Now a highlight of NYFW, the concerts Clemens throws in lieu of runway shows reinforce the idea that his platform is a diverse community – as should be for fashion.

Christopher John Rogers - September 7th at 1pm

Rogers has dressed the likes of Tracee Ellis Ross, Tessa Thompson and even Michelle Obama. But the 25-year-old still produces his collection at night, after his fashion-consulting job, out of the Bushwick apartment he shares with two of his label’s three other employees.

While many of Rogers’ peers are busy tweaking streetwear or Americana, he’s blazed his own colorful, zany path: gowns with tiers upon tiers of ruffles, electric-hued hand-painted bustiers, zebra stripes mixed with harlequin checks, sparkly pink pantsuits. He describes his fifth collection, debuting at New York Fashion Week Saturday, as: if Art Deco illustrator Erté had drawn the French New Wave film “Pierrot le Fou” but set it in a Gauguin painting in the year 2050.

Rogers got interested in fashion through comic books and manga. And his parents — who work in agricultural technology and medicine — began driving him to a neighbor’s house for sewing lessons during high school.

Christopher says his parents encouraging him to be himself at such a young age is why he is so self-assured about his point-of-view. That POV has stayed consistent, through studying at Savannah College of Art and Design and working as a designer for Diane von Furstenberg — which he did while launching his own line (he finally quit his DVF gig in March).

And while his rainbow-colored, in-your-face fashion may not be practical, it feels of-the-moment — reminiscent of the superheroes he idolized as a kid.

Laquan Smith - September 8th at 1pm

Plenty of successful designers, stylists and business owners have thriving careers without a traditional fashion education, and LaQuan Smith is one of them. Born and raised in Queens, New York, the designer has been making clothes since he was a teen. (He was gifted a sewing machine at 13 years old by his grandmother.) Although Smith didn't get into FIT or Parsons to study design, that didn't stop him from putting his homegrown New York hustle to work in order to launch his own eponymous line. 

At 21 years old, an age when fashion students are usually preparing to put on a graduation show or thinking about post-grad work, Smith made his New York Fashion Week debut. In 2013, he officially launched his namesake label, creating an aesthetic that embraces the female figure. Over the past five years, he's grown a steady clientele of high-profile celebrities, including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lady Gaga and the Kardashian-Jenner crew.

Smith's new collaboration with online retailer ASOS has allowed him to bring his fantasies to the real world. The capsule was teased during his Spring/Summer 2019 runway show in New York last fall, and now, fully complete, is a milestone for the designer. In a range that has offering for both sides of the closet—easily ASOS' largest collaboration to date—the launch sees a series of firsts for Smith. His first line of denim ("I tired to do jeans on my own two seasons ago...I was out of my league" he jokes), his first menswear assortment and, the designer's favorite: full-blown accessories.

"Being able to make sunglasses and hats and trunks with the LaQuan Smith logo on it was so amazing," Smith explains. "Oh, and shows! I've made my own shoes in the past, but it's a very expensive and tedious process process. LaQuan Smith is primarily an apparel womenswear brand, so to take it a step further and create this amazing full range collection was so personally gratifying."

"I just feel really blessed. For me, with all the incredible trials and errors that I go through as a designer, as a young business on the rise, I thoroughly enjoy what I do. I love what I do. I see the effect that I have on people. I see what kind of inspiration I give to people, I give to women, I give to other designers. I inspire people and I'm happy. If I'm able to make one woman happy and make her feel really beautiful and confident — even though she already is internally — but to feel that on the outside and the inside, then I feel like I've done something. So I'm happy to be doing what I'm doing and I'm just really blessed to know that there's a lot of people out there that are supporting me and watching me and helping me and are rooting for me. It just keeps me going."

Victor Glemaud - September 8th at 4-6pm

Victor Glemaud is a familiar face in New York fashion. He’s worked with Patrick Robinson on the designer’s own label as well as at Paco Rabanne, at Tommy Hilfiger, and at KCD, where he worked with such brands as Versace, Marc Jacobs, and Helmut Lang. The Haiti-born designer launched his namesake label in 2008, and made a mark for himself with terrific knitwear designs which led to the 2017 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, for which he was a finalist.

Glemaud is all about diversity and inspiring inclusivity. “I naturally approach designing my collection as being for all women, for all people.”

“My clothes are sexy, colorful, cut to the body, vibrant.” Says the New York based designer. "Statement knits that are cut and constructed so impeccably that people are often surprised to learn the garments are knit because they appear tailored." Glemaud has recently integrated inclusive sizing into his collection range with no differentiation in style. “People are surprised that it’s all the same collection, but I don’t see a differentiation.” He says.

In an interview with CFDA, Victor was asked about what hurdles he's faced as a Black designer & executive. "As my dear friend Bethann [Hardison] always says, “I am a designer who is black, not a black designer or CEO.” The distinction here is subtle but important. I have worked in fashion – an industry I love – for over 20 years. My first job as intern, and then design assistant to Patrick Robinson, never made me feel like an outsider due to my race. Outside the studio, however, I did not see many people who looked like us in the workrooms, fabrics fairs, or nightclubs I frequented. Because of my varied experiences, knowledge, and access, I’m very much an insider on paper. The reality is, though, when I walk into a meeting with new people, most do not assume that I am the designer, creative director, or CEO of my business. But I’m an optimist and always look forward. Do I recall every slight I’ve encountered daily throughout my time in this global industry? No. Nevertheless, at the moment, I am fundraising with a proven, profitable, and nimble business with unique, non-traditional brand and marketing models. Many of the people I’ve met with are startled to learn that I – and I alone – had this launch strategy. Hurdles await anyone who is trying something new! However, a growing business with an unconventional model should warrant the same consideration as other fashion houses with executives and designers of other races."

Pyer Moss - September 8th at 9pm

Kerby Jean-Raymond, who is an honorary member of Black Design Collective and also just became a Board Member for CFDA, will close out the night with his collection for Pyer Moss.

Since founding his clothing label Pyer Moss (pronounced Pierre Moss) in 2013, Kerby Jean-Raymond has defied fashion’s conventions. Last September, he wowed the industry with a runway show in Brooklyn on the grounds of a 19th-century free black community, featuring black models and a gospel choir. Mr. Jean-Raymond’s rumination on everyday black life—as well as his high-concept, socially conscious designs—made him a star.

For his Spring 2016 show, Jean-Raymond produced a short film that would spark an urgent conversation around political activism on the runway. The 12-minute-long clip addressed the issue of race and police brutality head on, featuring the families of several black men who had died at the hands of law enforcement, including Nicole Bell, fiancée of Sean Bell, and Emerald Garner, daughter of Eric Garner, as well as the designer’s high-profile friends: Victor Cruz, Usher, and artist Kehinde Wiley among them. Not everyone approved of his Black Lives Matter messaging—he received death threats from far-right extremists after the show and several of the brand’s biggest retail accounts dropped out. Still, Jean-Raymond wasn’t discouraged. With Pyer Moss, he continues to prove that fashion can be a vehicle for positive change.

Jean-Raymond is a designer who marches to the beat of his own drum. He proved he has what it takes to win on his own terms last fall, scooping up the prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award. Rather than splash out on a big-budget production for Fashion Week, he took a season off and invested the $400,000 prize money back into his business. The collection he’s planning to show this September won’t adhere to the traditional seasonal model—it will be see-now-buy-now instead.

The 32-year-old Haitian-American designer has proved he can more than hold his own. His soulful, thought-provoking, and socially conscious approach to the runway has made Pyer Moss one of the most important shows on the New York Fashion Week calendar.

Studio 189 - September 10th at 2pm

During February's New York Fashion Week in which Gucci faced public condemnation for selling a blackface balaclava, a label co-founded by two black women celebrated the African diaspora and the Ghanaian Year of Return.

“This year we celebrate the idea of going back home and returning with love and compassion,” said Studio 189 co-founder Abrima Erwiah after the presentation of its first fall/winter collection. She noted that 2019 marks the 400th anniversary of the first arrival of enslaved Africans to North America.

The clothes and accessories of Studio 189 come from artisans in Ghana. The country’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, declared 2019 The Year of Return, an invitation to members of the African diaspora to visit their roots, especially those descended from enslaved people forced to cross through Ghana’s Door of No Return.

The brand, co-founded in 2012 by actress Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, a former Bottega Veneta marketing and communication executive, aims to push social change through fashion. Last year, Studio 189 won the CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative prize, which provides funding for brands focusing on sustainability.

Instead of walking down a runway, Studio 189 models stood in a line that ran the length of the catwalk, kitted out in the batik prints and indigo-dyed wares for which the label is known. The results were twofold. Showgoers could get close and linger long enough to absorb the craftsmanship of the clothes and get a sense of the various weights and textures of the fabrics. But the arrangement also erased the traditional social hierarchy of a fashion show, in which who is seated and where can make just as significant a statement as the clothes themselves.

“This is our Sunday Best collection,” Dawson said. “It’s really about recognizing where we come from, so you’ll see a lot of ancient techniques that are still so beautiful today. It’s about being present in this moment in the Year of Return and being together. … It’s really about going, ‘Let’s make this something we can continue celebrating.’ We don’t have to have lots of things, but we have to have quality things.”

SavagexFenty - September 10th at 9pm

In the spring of 2018, music and fashion icon Rihanna embarked on her newest venture: lingerie designer. Inspired to create a line of intimates that complements a variety of shades and shapes, Savage X Fenty celebrates fearlessness, confidence, and inclusivity.

“We want to make people look good and feel good,” explains Rihanna, who approaches Savage X with the same mentality she does all her projects—to make something new and fresh that everyone can relate to and feel confident in. “We want you to feel sexy and have fun doing it.” With offerings ranging from everyday basics to more provocative pieces—Savage X Fenty has lingerie for your every mood.

On Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal reported that her lingerie line Savage x Fenty had raised an additional $50 million in funding after a strong first year of sales. The new $50 million joins $20 million of previously-raised capital, bringing Savage x Fenty's total backing to about $70 million. The underwear line is praised for its inclusivity in sizes and, since its launch in May 2018, has managed to occupy space in the competitive lingerie market with sales nearing $150m USD. Savage x Fenty is a collaborative venture between Rihanna and Techstyle — which owns Kate Hudson’s Fabletics and ShoeDazzle.

This September’s Savage X Fenty broadcast will be Rihanna’s second event for the brand since its launch in 2017. Rihanna has partnered with Amazon to give Prime viewers a behind-the-scenes look in a documentary executive produced by the star, which will detail how the show came together through her own vision.

One year ago she held a show at the Brooklyn Navy Yard that opened with modern dancers followed by the likes of Gigi Hadid, Paloma Elsesser, and Duckie Thot in some of the sexiest lingerie to ever walk a NYFW runway. Infamously, the show was closed by a nine-month-pregnant Slick Woods in nothing but a thong, pasties, and teensy bodysuit. Immediately after her runway turn, Woods went into labor and delivered her son, Saphir.

“Rihanna has conquered the worlds of music, film, beauty, and fashion. She has reinvented the idea of what fashionable lingerie should be for a global customer. The brand authentically reflects empowering statements of inclusivity, body positivity, and fun! The Savage X Fenty show promises to be a groundbreaking and truly unique experience, and we’re thrilled to give our global customers an exclusive front-row seat,” said Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke in a release.

Article Credits to OfficeMagazine, L'Officiel , NYPost, Fashionista, CRFashionBook, 11Honoré, CFDA, WallStreetJournal, VOGUE, TheUndefeated, TechStyle Fashion Group, Fashionista, HypeBeast,

Special Thanks To Our Past Sponsors

© 2019 by Black Design Collective, Inc.

  • Facebook Social Icon
  • Instagram Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Pinterest Social Icon