The world of luxury fashion is a haven for joy; a celebration of exquisite creativity and quality materials. But we’d be remiss if we did not acknowledge the questionable classism, discrimination and negative impacts the clothing has had on particular communities in the world.
In the United States, the Black community comprises 15% of the population and yet remain underrepresented in the business world, fashion, and in retail stores. In 2020, Aurora James launched the Fifteen Percent Pledge to encourage the fashion industry’s biggest retailers to commit 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses.
With this, it’s incredibly important for us to highlight Black designers and Black-owned labels. Their work inspires us and sets trends that we all benefit from. The Black community gives fashion fresh innovation, ideas, and life… and we want to give honor where it’s due.
Here are 8 incredible brands and the Black talent behind them that we believe in and encourage you to pick up one of your next pieces from, some can even be found at Genuine Design!
Fear of God
"Fear of God’s rapture-evoking name may mirror the rise of religious fervor in a time of existential upheaval, but it isn’t a conservative moniker,” raves Interview Magazine. Founded by Jerry Lorenzo in 2013, the clothing line quickly revolutionized streetwear, its muted colorways and quality textiles imbuing a luxury appeal in everything from hoodies to oversized tailoring.
Lorenzo describes his Essentials line by saying, 'I’m hoping it’s attractive to young men right now. But the bet is really just on the fact that what I’m looking for doesn’t exist. I feel that people are getting into a wardrobe that allows their personality to enter the room before their clothes. Right now, everything is so loud and trendy that it takes precedence before the individual. This was an attempt to let the consumer take these pieces and make them their own.
When asked if he wants to share the word of God through his clothing, Jerry answered, "Not at all. The intention is so that the world knows I’m putting every part of me into this, and a big part of me is my spirituality. I’m not one to push that on anyone, but I’m also not shying away from who I am as an individual. Naming it Fear of God just gave me the necessary gas and purpose to design because it’s about a reverence for a higher being."
Genuine Design’s founder Thomas Barnicki has chosen to carry a curated collection of both Fear of God (Mainline) and Essentials Fear of God. The reasons being: Jerry has done a phenomenal job building a brand that creates a statement, has a unique approach towards luxury streetwear, and challenges cultural and religious norms. Lorenzo has achieved functionality with extreme ease by introducing Essentials into your wardrobe. All pieces are unisex. They fit oversized but can be sized down for a closer fit. The consistent variety of earth tones also promote a great deal of mix and matching. Making our job at Genuine Design (dressing up you for any occasion) extremely simple while keeping you comfortable, looking good, and fresh.
Abloh’s wife, Shannon, is focused on upholding her late husband’s ventures with excellence. She has created Virgil Abloh Securities and Foundation to amalgamate his businesses, while launching an annual 4 day festival to open-source his ideas and continue to spur on creative endeavors.
Off-White is now under the artistic direction of another amazing Black designer, Sierra Leone-born, Ibrahim Kamara. The brand is also now owned by LVMH, which was a very intentional decision by Abloh because it meant Ms. Abloh and the children “would be taken care of” said Michael Burke, chief executive of Louis Vuitton (where Abloh was Creative Director before his passing).
Could you imagine being DM’d by the legendary Virgil Abloh and within 24 hours becoming his first design assistant? Well that was the reality for Dr. Samuel Ross. Born in Brixton to second-generation Windrush parents of Caribbean descent, Ross brings together boldness and softness, graphic design expertise and a commentary on British class systems, racial discrimination, and brutalism.
Notably, Ross carries on the legacy of his mentor, Abloh, by not only providing guidance to up-and-coming People of Colour designers, but also with financial backing through his Black British Artist Grants.
“Long-term structured, consistent development… for the holistic Black British and wider POC experience to improve. Fundamentally, the vanguard of Britain’s soft-power, on a global stage, is missing far too many Black, POC, non-linear voices on both the front and back end of operations.
We’re missing perspectives, contributions and creativity that level beyond commercial virtue placements, score sheets and influencer fees. Already a reality amongst the marginalized, barely visible - often invisible - communities that form Britain’s modern society, it seems implausible to not embed a layer of structure and coordination to begin changing this reality, step by step, year on year.
For this idea to become a reality, the operations must come from within Black & POC communities.”
That’s a worthy mission we can get behind… and getting into some A-COLD-WALL* pieces might be a way you could show your support too!
A re-imaginer of menswear, Grace Wales Bonner brings together Afro Atlantic spirit and European tailoring & heritage. Wales Bonner is a mixed race woman; her mother is White and English and her father is Black and Jamaican. Without question, her background influences everything she does, constantly living on the line and creating space for conversation on diversity, imperialism, privilege through her provocative designs.
Wales Bonner stockists include Matchesfashion.com, Selfridges, Net-a-Porter, Mr. Porter, Bergdorf Goodman, Saks 5th Avenue, Nordstrom, Dover Street Market International and Boon the Shop, and hopefully soon, Genine Design.
Christopher John Rogers
Quirky. Lackadaisical. Exuberant. Electric.
The energy of the designer flows seamlessly into the energy of his clothing. You’ll stop the show and light up the room in these pieces. Plus, you’ll be able to brag that you’re wearing An American Womenswear Designer of the Year at the CFDA Fashion Awards. Oh, and Rogers just so happens to have also dressed Michelle Obama.
“For women without limits. We believe that women should be empowered to break barriers, achieve excellence in every aspect of their lives, and make their own rules.”
SAY THAT AGAIN!
This luxury brand simply has something for everyone. A variety of colors, incredibly flattering shapes and lines (sizes 0 - 20!!!), with price points for everyone. Whether you need something for an exciting gala, for wearing as you return to the office, or for just being about town, Hanifa, designed and owned by Anifa Mvuemba, absolutely doesn’t disappoint.
The label combines elements from the designer's dual Indian-Nigerian heritage and London roots. It explores the potential of vintage and surplus clothing by giving existing material a new life through various textile and patchwork techniques. This means that many Ahluwalia pieces are one of a kind.
Inspired by art, music and literature, much of the work created by Ahluwalia goes beyond her collections and includes collaborative campaigns, books and films.
Ahluwalia is deemed as a pioneer in the fashion industry and is regularly featured in press from all over the world, from the New York Times and i-D to Vogue and many more.
Ahluwalia is available in renowned stores worldwide, including Matches Fashion, Browns, Bergdorf Goodman, SSENSE and Nordstrom.
Just casually having the likes of Ariana Grande, Kelly Rowland, Haley Bieber, Cindy Crawford, The Kardashians, and more, Hudson is no stranger to designing stunning, high-quality womenswear.
Hudson takes the needs of the modern-day woman seriously. Designed and produced exclusively in Los Angeles, anything you need from a business wardrobe essential to a statement piece, this brand has your bases covered.
“Every garment is carefully designed and crafted to exude power and sexiness, while maintaining elegance and class. When a woman purchases a Sergio Hudson piece she can be assured she is acquiring a show-stopping look made from the best quality materials that will stand the test of time.”
Author - Tynan Allan