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Makers Of The Movement: 4 Black Designers With Moving Designs and A Message to Match

The fashion world is quite vast and at sometimes, vapid. At NBGA we strive to showcase diversity in all areas of the fashion industry, especially individuals who champion for change and use their platform to raise awareness to social issues. In this great big world of fashion, it can be hard to find diversity in mainstream media. So, here are 4 black designers who make great clothes and spread great messages while doing it.

Kerby Jean-Raymond

A New York-based Haitian-American designer, founder of menswear label, Pyer Moss and winner of the 2018 CDFA Fashion Fund.

A man with a message, Jean-Raymond uses his platform to start conversations about social issues and creates campaigns that challenge thought. Appropriately dubbing his brand as an “art project” and “a timely social experiment”, Jean-Raymond’s creativity carries out a message that goes beyond good clothing. He came into the spotlight thanks to his brilliant Spring 2016 Pyer Moss menswear showcase. The NYFW presentation highlighted the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and police brutality. The bold collection created controversy among retailers, with some canceling their orders with Pyer Moss and resulting in over $120 000 USD loss for the company. However, this didn’t stop Jean-Raymond from continuing to wear his message. His latest online inventory includes a t-shirt with the statement “Stop Calling 911 on the Culture” and 20% of its proceeds go towards The Innocence Project.

Stella Jean

A Haitian-Italian designer and former model based in Rome, also known as “Giorgio Armani’s protege.”

A woman of mixed race, she continuously emphasizes the importance of merging her different heritages in her designs. Her work reflects her roots with a large focus on multiculturalism. Jean has created a collection in partnership with the United Nations Ethical Fashion Initiative, to collaborate with marginalized Haitian artisans with the goal to empower women, create jobs and offer education.  Through these endeavors, Jean expresses her passion for ethical fashion, sustainability, and connecting cultures in order to create fashion that gives back.

Tracy Reese

A womenswear designer, born in Detroit, based in New York and serves on the CDFA Board of Directors

Reese has an extremely impressive resume, from graduating with an accelerated degree from Parsons, working under Martine Sitbon and becoming the design director for Women’s Portfolio at Perry Ellis before launching her own label. When she is not creating colorful and bold designs for confident women, Reese lobbies for plenty of social causes and charities. She has served on the AIDS Fund Committee for the New York Community Trust for five years. Reese is also part of the Turnaround Arts program through the President’s Committee of the Humanities and Arts and is the Turnaround Artist for Barnum School in Connecticut.

Reese has also dressed the one and only, Michelle Obama.

Aurora James

Canadian born, Brooklyn based designer and founder of accessories label, Brother Vellies

Although most of her life was spent in North American metropolises, it was her first trip to Africa that was life-changing for the young designer. Inspired by its artisans, James aimed to create a label that embodied the artistry she encountered throughout the continent. Today, Brother Vellies is more than just a vision that came to fruition. With more than nine workshops around the world that all employ local artisans and use responsibly sourced materials to unique garments for the label, James is designing for positive movements.

We hope you delve deeper into the work of these designers, support diverse designers who want to make a positive change for the world and be inspired to use your platform to always fight the good fight.

by Lindsay Selliah
Cover Photo: By Lois Cohen