Black fashion can mean a million different things, depending on who you ask. From avant garde minimalism to vibrantly patterned surfaces, it doesn't have a single definition.
Since the early twentieth century, black designers have continued to make strides in the fashion industry, going from relative obscurity to world-wide fame. Little known fact: Jackie Kennedy's 1953 wedding dress was designed by Ann Lowe, the first successful African American designer. Lowe's one-of-a-kind dresses were popular in high society circles from the 1920s to the 1960s.
Our list below showcases six black fashion designers and influencers who have helped redefine fashion in recent years. These creative talents have positioned themselves at the forefront of the industry, and have proven that innovation comes in many forms.
Born in Detroit, Tracy Reese graduated from Parson's School of Design in 1984. She has had a good deal of success and oversees two lines: her eponymous Tracy Reese line as well as Plenty, a lower-priced range. Intricate patterns, bright hues and swinging dresses define her work, and she is a favorite of former First Lady Michelle Obama.
Founded by sisters Darlene and Lizzy Okpo, the much buzzed about William Okpo label is a relative newcomer on the scene. The sisters are known for creating catchy sartorial statements using minimalist designs that loosely reference their Nigerian heritage. Their signature brand of loose tailoring results in looks that are youthful yet sophisticated.
As one half of the ready-to-wear brand Public School, Maxwell Osborne is known for bringing New York streets to high fashion. Along with co-Creative Director Dao-Yi Chow, Public School's loose silhouettes frequently riff on hoodies and cargo pants. Now carried at established luxury retailers Barney's and Bergdorf, it's safe to say that the duo's aesthetic has staying power.
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Although he's French, Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing made our list because of his huge influence on fashion. He has long been a celeb favorite (he's especially loved by the Kardashians) and his pieces have a modern edgy sex appeal with constructions that are feats of engineering.
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These sisters aren't designers, but as the creative powers behind the blog Urban Bush Babes, they've become powerful style influencers. Featured as faces in a number of ads, including Target, the Quann twins can pull off the slinkiest of gowns as well as the boldest mismatched prints.
Our favorite black fashion designers and influencers bring an eclectic array of statements to the table, have helped to re-define what we wear, and their cults of personality continue to inspire. This is just the beginning a more inclusive creative arena.