Check out these 16 superlative Black designers

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Brother Vellies is a seriously cool shoe and bag line designed by Toronto native (and current New Yorker) Aurora James, who strives to employ traditional African design practices in her work. I think these mules are the just-right amount of funky.

Pyer Moss is designed by Haitian-American Kerby Jean-Raymond, who won the CFDA Fashion Fund Prize in 2018, and has addressed topics like police brutality in his runway shows. I’d say his work is equal parts street-inspired and refined, and I especially like this cropped corduroy trucker jacket.

Want les Essentiels is designed by twin brothers Dexter and Ryan Peart, and they specialize in restrained, minimal bags with the exactly-right details (they also make a similarly minimal clothing line). I have wanted one of their bags for ages—this tote looks just about perfect—because they seem great for travel.

Telfar Clemens’ bag brand, Telfar, has serious hipster cred. This tote—which comes in three sizes and a number of colors—has been dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin,” after the Brooklyn neighborhood and the luxe Hermes bag, respectively. All the cool kids in my neighborhood carry it.

 

Lemlem is the brainchild of Ethiopian model Liya Kebede, and all of the goods she designs—dresses, swimsuits, beach cover-ups—are made in Africa. I’ve been a Lemlem fan for a while—her pieces are so easy and superlight—and think this dress is so flowy and elegant.


Wales Bonner is designed by Brit Grace Wales Bonner, who has many high-profile fans: Megan Markle wore Wales Bonner for her first official portrait after the birth of her son. She’s known for her masterfully-cut (and not cheap) suits, but I also like this fun button-down.

Mateo is a jewelry brand designed by Jamaican-born New Yorker Matthew Harris, and his pieces are clean, sculptural, and easy to wear. I always like a signet ring, and this is such a good one.

 

Fenty comes to us via pop star Rihanna, and it’s definitely street-inspired, but with a healthy dose of glam thrown in. I’d wear this oversize cropped denim shirt as a jacket.

If you’re in the mood to splurge on a drop-dead party dress, you could do far worse than to choose something from Cushnie, which is designed by Carly Cushnie, who has made dresses for Michelle Obama, Beyonce, and many other big names. I think this pink dress is desperately glamorous.

Demestik is the brainchild of native Virginian Reuben Reuel, who makes dresses—like this gorgeous print—to order. I love the flared sleeves here, and I never love flared sleeves.

Hanifa is designed by Anifa Mvuemba, who created a fashionable stir when she debuted her most recent collection on Instagram using 3D technology. Her trunk shows attract hordes looking for comfortable but chic items like this amazing cardigan dress, which comes in a number of excellent colors.

Nubian skin understands that flesh comes in many colors, and creates intimate wear accordingly. The company was founded by UK native Ade Hassan. This super-clean-lined bodysuit would be an ideal first layer.

Ashya is a leather goods line designed by Moya Annece and Ashley Cimone, who met while they were students at F.I.T. and manufacture their pieces in New York. I think this fantastic  belt bag would be the perfect hands-free option for dog walking (and more).

The eponymous designer of Stella Jean won an Italian Vogue talent contest in 2011, and then swiftly went on to see her first collection sell out at Matches in London. Her use of color is just delightful, and while pieces like this dress aren’t cheap, they’re the sort of items that add serious excitement to your closet.

Romeo Hunte is designed by a Brooklyn native of the same name, and I am so crazy for his stuff—this poncho exceeds the GOACA price limit by rather a lot, but I think it is just so good—architectural and interestingly conceived.

Undra Celeste is designed by Undra Duncan (Celeste is her middle name), who is a first-generation American—her parents are from Guyana, and she draws inspiration from her Caribbean background. I think I’m probably going to go for this awesome  belt, which is so graphically pleasing and imparts a sentiment you can’t argue with.

 

 

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41 Thoughts on Check out these 16 superlative Black designers
    CYNTHIA EYAKUZE
    15 Jun 2020
    9:17am

    This is great Kim! I’m a black follower of your blog, which I enjoy for many reasons, but have also been close to stopping because of the too little content on black women/issues etc. I’m excited to see your posts from the past few weeks. And I sincerely hope that you will continue this as a regular thing going forward, both through targeted focus like this post, but also through integration in other posts.

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      Kim France
      15 Jun 2020
      9:47am

      Thanks, Cynthia. I do plan on integrating more Black-owned brands into the blog moving forward.

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        CynthiaE
        15 Jun 2020
        10:29am

        Fantastic! Looking forward to it. By the way, Demestik has the dopest face masks out there for those who feel adventurous. I got a couple and am actually just a little excited about heading to the grocery store now.

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          Chris
          15 Jun 2020
          11:36am

          Do you have a link? My google search is coming up short.

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      barb
      15 Jun 2020
      3:27pm

      I second this…

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    Michelle
    15 Jun 2020
    8:38am

    I.LOVE.THIS.POST.

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    Elisa
    15 Jun 2020
    8:35am

    My niece works with a woman who has a site with home designs from African designers. Cool stuff: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-1-d&q=54+Kibo. 54 Kibo if the link doesn’t work

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      Eloise
      16 Jun 2020
      9:11am

      Gorgeous!

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    Candy
    15 Jun 2020
    8:34am

    That Stella Jean dress is fabulous. Wish my budget could afford it, or my Covid-shrunk life make it worthwhile.

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    Kimberly
    15 Jun 2020
    9:05am

    Cushnie has a Target collection out right now with a similar version of that pink dress in a several more colors for $50, and sizing goes up to 3X.

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      Kim France
      15 Jun 2020
      9:09am

      Thanks for the heads up, Kimberly. Here’s the link for anyone who’s interested: https://rstyle.me/+NbZC2AO3alg5_hg-9Mfc0w

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      RebeccaToo
      15 Jun 2020
      1:26pm

      I was in Target last week and the Cushnie collection stopped me in my tracks. It is fab and a lotta luxe for the price!

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    Mamavalveeta03
    16 Jun 2020
    12:09pm

    Brother Vellies has the COOLEST shoes – They’re works of art! And I’ve got a few beach LemLem pieces in my summer closet because I actually feel DRESSED when I toss them over a bathing suit. Gorgeous choices, Kim!

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    Mimi
    15 Jun 2020
    12:21pm

    STELLA JEAN! Stella Jean’s garments are the most wonderfully made clothing I have ever worn. The inside of a Stella Jean dress is as beautiful as the outside. She uses fabrics of impeccable quality and many pieces are lined. I have a small but choice, imho, collection of Stella Jean and whenever I wear her designs strangers lob compliments my way. Her stuff can be hard to find but Shopbop and The Outnet both carry the brand, sometimes discounted on the former and always on the latter site. If you’re interested in fashion I’d suggest looking at the archive or her shows on Vogue Runway. The styling can be wacky but so imaginative. Her silhouettes are pretty classic and IRL it isn’t difficult to tone the looks down. The Spring 2014 collection is dazzling. If you can find any of her accessories, her jewelry and belts are fabulous too.

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      Tanya Hahni
      15 Jun 2020
      12:36pm

      I love this enthusiastic endorsement of Stella Jean! I mentioned in my comment that I enjoy following her on Instagram but the pieces are out of my price range. It’s so nice to read some more details about the quality, wearability, and the occasional markdown.

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        Mimi
        15 Jun 2020
        1:58pm

        So many “designer” clothes are disappointingly junky that it’s a pleasure to find a brand whose quality measures up to its style. I just ordered a Stella Jean cotton top from The Outnet marked down from $350 to $83 with a promotion. There’s an excellently discounted selection on The Real Real, many NWT. Seek and stalk and ye shall find.

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          Mamavalveeta03
          16 Jun 2020
          12:21pm

          Do you remember Gordon Henderson? I’m not exactly sure when he was active, but a friend who “organizes” people’s wardrobes and homes would bring me some of their rejects occasionally and I lucked into a perfect green linen trapeze jacket by Henderson. I remember thinking, “So this is what a great garment looks like!” Stupidly, I got rid of it in one of my purges.

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    Shannon Hsu
    15 Jun 2020
    10:14am

    Thank you for this post!

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    HickfromStyx
    15 Jun 2020
    10:14am

    These are some beautiful things.

    Another idea: hair products. Many companies market to an audience that they are not actually part of.

    I have been buying black hair care products for years because they work for me.

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      Kim France
      15 Jun 2020
      10:16am

      I’ll be doing a post on Black-owned beauty brands at some point in the near future.

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    Suju
    15 Jun 2020
    10:33am

    Great post! Just like with everything else, when you shine a light there’s so much talent to be seen. Long time fan of Brother Vellies, now a fan of all these designers. In terms of books, let me add to the list with just a few more: The Book of Delights (Ross Gay), Heavy (Kiese Laymon), Friday Black (Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah), Citizen (Claudia Rankine), Feel Free (Zadie Smith).

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      Suju
      15 Jun 2020
      10:38am

      More books: My Sister, the Serial Killer (Oyinkan Braithwaite), The Nickel Boys and Underground Railroad (Colson Whitehead), Washington Black (Esi Edugyan).

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      L.J.
      16 Jun 2020
      12:36am

      Citizen is essential!

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    c.w.
    15 Jun 2020
    10:48am

    Terrific group of designers! I’m having a severe hankering for those Brother Vellies mules. So, so good. Also the denim shirt to wear as a jacket.

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    Christina
    15 Jun 2020
    11:37am

    Love this post! Thank you!

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    Tanya Hahni
    15 Jun 2020
    11:54am

    I love following Stella Jean on Instagram. The clothes are so fun and beautiful. At this point in my life, they are way out of my price range but they are a joy to look at. As usual, your picks reflect your wonderful taste which is one of the things that makes me a loyal reader.

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    Viajera
    15 Jun 2020
    11:53am

    Really gorgeous items – thank you, Kim!!

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    joannawnyc
    15 Jun 2020
    12:07pm

    Thanks Kim! There are a lot of great small black-owned housewares/selfcare companies around also–I just ordered a sample set of scented candles from Bright Black (brightblackcandles.com). Looking forward to expanding my horizons in other realms as well!

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    Teresa
    15 Jun 2020
    11:58am

    Another black reader here. Appreciate this post. More, please.

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    Kim
    15 Jun 2020
    9:32am

    Those dresses from Cushnie and Stella Jean are fabulous!
    If you need to spend less money but still want to make a purchase this week to support Black artists, I saw a call on Ibram Kendi’s Instagram to purchase 2 books by Black authors June 14-20. You can’t go wrong with anything by Jesmyn Ward, Jacqueline Woodson, or N. K. Jemisin.

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    Amanda H
    15 Jun 2020
    9:44am

    Keep up this type of content, Kim! Love seeing you highlight black designers — love the idea of sharing black-created/ owned books, design, music, art, beauty, too.

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    Mimi
    15 Jun 2020
    8:34pm

    Great post. But you forgot Victor Glemaud, Haitian-American Knitwear designer. His designs are on ShopBop and he is fun! Check out his work.

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      Mimi A
      15 Jun 2020
      11:24pm

      Uh oh. We have two commenters named Mimi now. Guess I’ll add an initial.

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    MV
    15 Jun 2020
    10:38pm

    This post is going to make my break my no spend quarantine rule! I have been a long time fan of Want Les Essentials – one of my favourites. The brothers – Canadian! – are incredibly talented. Interesting to note that they sold their stake in Want in 2017 and in 2019 launched goodeeworld.com – a marketplace for for ethical homewares. It’s full of gorgeous items with great stories.

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    DeeSee
    15 Jun 2020
    11:30pm

    I bought my husband a Want les Essentiels laptop bag a few years ago for a special occasion, and I am KICKING myself for not keeping it for myself–ha ha. I might need to get one for myself. It’s the perfect bag: cool-looking, minimalist but super-functional, subtle touches that make you look twice, and SO. WELL. MADE. It has stood the test of time and it still look fabulous.

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    Mary
    15 Jun 2020
    7:14am

    I’m liking the denim shirt.

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    D.Morgendorffer
    15 Jun 2020
    1:25pm

    I love what I saw on the Demestik site. As much as I love the prints, what I keep thinking about are the amazing silhouettes. I am so excited about this designer!

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    Dana D
    15 Jun 2020
    1:44pm

    Beautiful post…

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    RebeccaToo
    15 Jun 2020
    1:48pm

    All so good. I am not cool enough for half of it but I can dream! Nubian Skin delivers something my teen girl needs…beautiful, streamlined foundations in darker tones. Thank you!

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    MaryAlice
    15 Jun 2020
    2:27pm

    May I add a personal favorite? UnoEth is an Oakland, California based company run by a father/daughter duo who source their gorgeous leather goods from Ethiopia. They are the nicest people and I just ordered their Hannah tote. I love it that their bags are perfectly clean lined and minimal.
    https://unoeth.com/

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Kim France

I was born in Houston, Texas in 1964 and have lived in New York City since 1988. I had a long career in magazines, working at Sassy, Elle, New York, and Spin, and in 2000, I founded Lucky magazine, which I edited for ten years.

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