It’s hard to believe that in 2018, under one percent of designers found in department stores and major e-commerce sites are people of color, but that’s the harsh truth. Check out this list of talented Black designers, support and let up know who we missed!
OUIGI THEODORE, is the founder of the Brooklyn Circus clothing boutique. His unique style is a mix of old and new designs with an appreciation for vintage brands. Ouigi’s style has been called fop, preppy, Anglophile and even dandy. His style has won him praise and adulation from his loyal fans in Brooklyn to those in Europe and Japan. With the Brooklyn Circus, Mr. Theodore said he wants to “refine the image of urban America. My dream is to see guys hanging on the corner in suits.”
Being an energetic guy, he realized he wasn’t suited for a desk job and with $8,000 he was able to scrape together, he was able to open his first shop in Brooklyn in 2006. In addition to his Brooklyn shop, he’s opened another flagship store in San Francisco, a store inside a store at Sir & Madame in Chicago, a pop-up store in Stockholm and sells to 25 specialty shops in Japan.
Darlene and Lizzy Okpo
There’s a new sister duo on the scene in the fashion design industry. Similar to the sibling duos behind Rodarte and The Row, sisters Darlene Okpo,28, and Lizzy Okpo, 24, used family influences and their love for 90’s hip hop as the inspiration for their fashion label William Okpo, whose flagship store opened in the South Street Seaport in NYC. The Okpo ladies named their clothing brand after their father, who’s well dressed style in the 70’s greatly influenced their love for fashion design.
After working for Opening Ceremony clothing boutique in NYC, owners Humberto Leon and Carol Lim started to carry the Okpo’s line of ready-to-wear fashion and accessories with it’s clean, voluminous silhouettes in bright, nineties-hip-hop-minded colors. The sisters bold, colorful designs caught the eye of Solange Knowles and together they collaborated on a Puma Disc sneaker. The owners of Opening Ceremony eventually encouraged the Okpo sisters to open their own store.
Maxwell Osborne along with his business partner Dao Yi-Chow are the owners of the fashion brand Public School NYC. The brand has won accolades from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and also received praise from fashion photography guru Anna Wintour. Originally started as a menswear brand, these guys launched a women’s wear line in February 2014 which was greeted with much adulation. The sky is no longer the limit as Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow are now the creative designers for women’s wear line DKNY.
Tracy Reese graduated from Parsons School of Design in 1984 and began her career as a designer for Perry Ellis. Ms. Reese started her own women’s ready-to-wear line in 1996 and followed that up with a second line of her own called Plenty in 1998. Her collections have been dubbed as bohemian, eclectic and adventurous with a high focus on ultra femininity. Tracy Reese has an extensive collection of ready-to-wear clothing, accessories, and home fashions such as linens that can be found at her own website, at Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, Neiman Marcus or Bloomingdale’s to name a few. In 2007 Tracy was inducted as a board member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Ituen Basi is a Nigerian designer who started her own fashion line in 2009. Due to her immense talent, she has won prestigious awards such as “Most Innovative Designer” and “Emerging Designer of the Year, Africa.” Ms. Basi received her BA of Theatre Arts degree from the University of Life in Nigeria and then honed her skills even further by studying at the renown London College of Fashion. Her unique take on fashion allows Ituen to create functional but wearable art pieces. The Ituen Basi brand has been described as “a celebration of individuality and feminism, a stylish combination of timeless elegance with a contemporary twist.” (Photo via Samir Hussein/Getty)
Web Site –http://www.ituenbasi.co.uk/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/Ituen-Basi-210689262451170/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/ituenbasi
Dexter and Byron Peart
Dexter and Byron Peart are renown for making functional, luxury leather bags, backpacks and canvas totes, priced well below their competitor’s offerings. Some of their bags are named after international airports like Orly and O’Hare. The brothers opened their first store Want Les Essentiels de La Vie in Montreal, Canada. In 2014, the Pearts opened a second store in Greenwich Village in NYC and introduced a women’s accessories collection along with a men’s shoe collection done in the same fine leathers as their bags. In early 2016 they will be opening a store in Tokyo, Japan. The Peart twins’ products are in the same league as venerable luxury brands like Prada and Balenciaga.
Web Site –http://www.wantlesessentiels.com/ca_en/
Andrea Iyamah is a fashion line owned by Nigerian fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah. Her clothing line is influenced by her African heritage with it’s vibrant colors and ethnic details. With a love for fashion and the arts, she honed her tailoring skills and educated herself about the fashion industry which allowed her to start her own brand at the age of 17.
Although Andrea Iyamah is known for it’s swimwear collection, the brand also specializes in ready-to-wear and custom made special event dresses. Located in Ontario, Canada, the brand caters to females looking to make a statement at an event or turning heads in an edgy bathing suit on a steamy vacation.
Web Site – http://www.andreaiyamah.com/