Ten years ago there were barely any black ethnic designers in the fashion industry. Since then many top artists have entered the world stage. Breaking boundaries and bringing their own unique styles, here are a few you should know.
The South African born designer, a big name since 2002, has won numerous awards. The Tlale brand infuses the rich cultural history of South Africa into their work, and embodies youth and elegance in the designs. In his 15-year long career, Tlale has exhibited at all the major fashion shows, including the Cape Town, New York and Paris Fashion Weeks.
See his designs online HERE.
Born in London and raised in Sierra Leone, her father sent Turay from the wartorn country at the age of 16. The teen worked in a hair salon while homeless in America and moved back to London using this career to pay for her tuition. She graduated as a civil servant, but held onto a childhood skill: dressmaking. This led to the creation of Gitas Portal in 2011 and features wax prints on ready-to-wear lines. A perfect combination of cultural and classy, her line is set for a great future.
See her product on Etsy HERE.
Establishing her line in 1987, then relaunching it 10 years later, Reese is undeniably a huge name in fashion. Born in Detroit, she specialises in women’s home and ready-to-wear styles. Inducted in 2007 to the Council of Fashion Designers of America, she has dressed many big names. Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and Alicia Keys have all received her custom. The Tracy Reese brand is a frequent addition to most top fashion magazines.
Her established line can be viewed online HERE.
Born in London, Carly with her business partner Michelle Ochs have established a reliable red-carpet brand. Cushnie Et Ochs design chic styles of clothing and accessories, and have recently introduced a handbag line. Cushnie was nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Award for Womenswear in 2013. Always one to go beyond the average, she recently celebrated her wedding in Mexico City this year complete with a full parade and a Mariachi band.
See the Cushnie Et Ochs line HERE.
The French-born designer, who became creative director to Balmain in 2011, is a well established entrepreneur. Despite successes, he has expressed in interviews that he initially received trepidation for his youth and especially his race.
People were like, ‘Oh my God, he’s a minority taking over a French house!’
-Rousteing to Out Magazine, 2015
He has worked for both men and women’s fashion lines, and Rousteing is reportedly close friends with numerous high-profile names. His connections include Kanye, Rihanna, Bieber, Nicki Minaj and Chris brown, and he has employed several Victoria’s Secret models.
See his instagram for details HERE.
Using style to combine all sides of her culturally-rich upbringing, this independent designer specialises in women’s
ready-to-wear lines. Born in Uganda to Congolese parents, Mateene graduated from Illinois Institute of Art-Chicago. She has extensively travelled around Europe, Africa and the Americas, and brings a variety of culture twists to generic American items.
Browse her brand, Kahindo, HERE.
Focusing on a ’70s aesthetic, the London-based designer has been turning heads on both sides of the Atlantic since 2004. Born to a Nigerian father and Jamaican mother in Laos, Olowu spent his childhood between London and Geneva. Before he entered the industry he used to be a qualified practising lawyer.
See his colourful lines HERE.
Two years ago this enigmatic artist designed her own prom dress and then proceeded to wear it as she displayed her African heritage with pride in her colourful print dress. The 20-year-old is now studying at the Parsons New School of Design. Creating a number of artistic pieces empowering women and BAME minorities with the same bold pattern and colour palette that shot her to fame, she has been cited as a rising star to watch.
See her artwork HERE.
Diversity in fashion
Recent years have seen a big change in the fashion industry. There has been an increase in diversity amongst models and designers. With men and woman breaking into eachother’s targets, recently the stylistic lines between genders is becoming blurred. As the industry embraces transgender models, so too does it benefit from BAME names bringing a blend of mainstream couture and cultural heritage to the benefit of all.