Antoine Gregory Selects 10 Emerging Black Designers You Should Be Supporting in 2021
Against the background of the Black Lives Matter protests that erupted across the globe this past June, it would appear on the surface that the world of fashion seemingly “woke up” to the racial injustices prevalent in each and every sector of the industry. Although we’re taking a step into the right direction, as significantly more Black models graced magazine covers and campaigns this year – a lot of which were shot, styled and produced by Black creatives – there’s still so much work to be done.
Collectively in 2021, we need to spotlight not only Black designers, but the people in the industry who have neutered, mentored and uplifted Black fashion talent long before this year began. One of whom is the brilliant Antoine Gregory. The New York-based stylist and fashion consultant put his tireless dedication of both documenting and preserving Black fashion into an innovative new platform, launched back in September.
Black Fashion Fair is a celebratory, multi-faceted, online space that champions both emerging and established Black designers. On the site, you will find an A-Z database of designers from across the globe, which will take you to each talent’s own dedicated platforms upon clicking each name. On top of this, there is an e-commerce section – meticulously curated by Gregory – where you can currently buy exclusive pieces from the likes of Los Angeles label No Sesso, as well as staple garms from the likes of Pyer Moss and Fe Noel.
Fifteen per cent of each sale made through Black Fashion Fair goes straight back into the platform, whether it’s to support Black Fashion Fair’s student programs or funding editorials that spotlight Black designers – the most recent being an editorial spotlighting Pyer Moss’ SS20 collection.
Leading up to 2021, Gregory has put together a list of 10 emerging Black designers challenging the fashion landscape as we know it, who you should most definetely be supporting moving into the new year.
Theophilio, courtesy of @theophilio.
Pierre Davis (No Sesso)
“Together with Autumn Randolph and Arin Hayes, Pierre Davis uses the influence and reach of fashion to challenge the conventions of design. By empowering people of all colours, shapes, and identities, No Sesso has become a brand centred on the community it serves.”
Edvin Thompson (Theophilio)
“Theophilio has been one of my favourite brands to watch develop. He has a great eye for colour and texture. And he sketches, which in many ways, has become a lost art amongst designers. Inspired by his heritage and growing up in Jamaica, he designs as a celebration of his life, Theophilio is a wearable biography.”
Johnny Nelson (Johnny Nelson Jewelry)
“Johnny Nelson has a beautiful way of telling stories through his hand-made pieces. Whether it’s earrings with the Black power fist or an ode to women like Shirley Chisholm, Lil Kim, and Ida B. Wells through his four-finger rings, Johnny Nelson reminds us to pay homage to ourselves.”
“Tia Adeola’s eponymous label is a glorious vision of femininity. She’s a designer that designs what she wants and for the woman she wants to see. And what I love most is that anyone could be her.”
Tia Adeola photographed by Sophia Wilson, courtesy of @tiaadeola.
Anifa Mvuemba (Hanifa)
“Anifa Mvuemba makes clothes for the everyday day woman. Wherever she is, wherever she’s going, Hanifa is the brand all women deserve.”
“All fashion is spectacle. But sometimes it’s stripped down to only its essential function. Spencer Badu’s aesthetic is informed by the Bauhaus art and design movement. And through his eponymous label, has built the tools for fashions post-gender revolution.”
James Phlemuns (Phlemuns)
“James Phlemuns is a designer’s designer. Through his collections that have celebrated the body in its many different shapes and sizes, he teaches us to find inspiration in diverse corners and how important it is that we do.”
Mowalola Ogunlesi (Mowalola)
“Mowalola speaks directly to the community that has helped build it: the subcultures of fashion and the internet. Ogunlesi makes clothes that are inspired and inspiring. Her vision is not limited to the just world she sees, but to the world she wants.”
Mowalola SS20 photographed by Jason Lloyd-Evans.
Sunni Dixon (Sunni Sunni)
“Conceptual and conscious footwear designer Sunni Sunni gives men options that move us far away from ugly-dad sneakers and the typical Chelsea boot. What we have is gender-blurring silhouettes such as his heeled square toe mule that makes shoe shopping interesting.”
Nicole Zïzi (Nicole Zïzi Studio)
“Nicole Zïzi is one of my favourite emerging designers. Her brand focuses on eco-consciousness and sustainability through her use of recycled and ethically sourced materials for an innovative approach to streetwear staples. She also makes my favourite (recycled) denim jacket.”
Top image: No Sesso photographed by Rikkí Wright, courtesy of @nosesso. You can shop and explore Black Fashion Fair here.