We're Black Fashion Experts—These Are the 26 Brands We're Loving Right Now
Photo:@_sierramayhew; @thechichio; @aiyanaish; @aniyahmorinia; ;@ravenmcandrew; @fashionwithjazz; @teniquebernard; @gracejoshua13; @morganmackenzz
During what I would call my rookie season—my first season as an editor—of New York Fashion Week back in the fall, I attended the Black in Fashion Council showroom preview held in Downtown Manhattan at Spring Studios. I was obviously bursting with excitement to just be attending fashion week in the first place, but to get to go to this preview in particular meant a lot to me. As a young Black girl, I was always hungry for all things glamour and fashion and spent my time dreaming about what it would be like to become an editor, so walking into a fashion-week preview that was so unapologetically Black did more for me than I had imagined it would. What really stood out to me was my conversation with designer Kwame Adusei. Both of us have African roots (he is from Ghana, and I am a first-generation American with a father from Malawi), so we immediately bonded over our love for fashion and African culture. While Kwame walked me through his collection, he told me, “The truth is we can wear anything and be fly because we are Black. It’s just in us.” His comment made me start to think about how Blackness translates to style and swag.
When I think of the Black fashion editors, publicists, and influencers who I follow and work with and who inspire me, they all have it. It’s not something that you can exactly put your finger on, and it’s not something that is a one-size-fits-all type of energy. It’s a certain je ne sais quoi in style, confidence, strength, and beauty that radiates from them, and it’s how they have figured out how to have such strong personal style. Before Black History Month comes to an end, I had to tap some of my favorite Black fashion experts to learn about the brands hanging in their highly curated closets.
Their answers not only put me on to new designers that I cannot wait to try for myself, but they also highlighted so many fashion designers that you, after reading this, will be obsessed with, too, if you aren’t already.
Keep scrolling to read my conversations with some of the most stylish Black fashion people, learn about my own favorites, and even shop the brands we can’t get enough of.
LaQuan Smith is not a designer for those who are afraid to stand out or command the attention of a room. Born in Queens, Smith truly understands the essence of the New York City It girl, and his clothes are a direct reflection of that. When I think of LaQuan Smith, I think of cool silhouettes, sexy cutouts, body-hugging fabrics, and statement pieces that will have everyone asking, “Where did you get that?” This brand is a celeb favorite that has been seen on the likes of Julia Fox, Lori Harvey, and Beyoncé to name a few. In my dream closet, I imagine tons of LaQuan Smith pieces to wear to every cool fashion party and restaurant opening in New York. A LaQuan Smith item is the type of piece that you tuck away in your closet in a garment bag until a very special occasion. There’s virtually no way to not feel badass in LaQuan Smith.
I had the pleasure of meeting Adusei during the Black in Fashion Council showroom presentation in the fall of 2022 during New York Fashion Week, and listening to him go through his collection and the inspiration behind it gave me chills. Adusei is from Ghana, and it’s very clear he designs for the African fashion girl. As Adusei himself will tell you, he creates clothes with curves in mind. Adusei’s designs sit at the perfect intersection of pretty and cool. With so many cool dresses, tops, pants, and jackets, there’s no way this brand doesn’t make my favorites list. It’s also a favorite of Kylie Jenner and Harvey, both of whom have been seen wearing multiple Kwame Adusei looks.
I know this brand has been mentioned by so many influencers and editors, but let me join in singing the praises of Cult Gaia. I first tried out the brand when I was shopping for a trip to Miami, and after my first Cult Gaia dress, I was immediately hooked. I’m always impressed when it comes to the designs and colors, and the brand makes some of the sickest accessories around. The accessories have an architectural feel to them that I am always attracted to. Its resortwear always has my heart, but every time a new collection makes its debut, I am drooling over each item. I’m already eyeing so many new pieces for the upcoming spring/summer.
“One of my go-to brands of the moment is Simkhai (recently rebranded from Jonathan Simkhai). For the past year, I’ve pretty much lived in Simkhai. From their sexy yet comfortable knit pieces to sparkling sequin sets, which are surprisingly versatile, my closet is filled with an array of items from recent Simkhai collections. I’ve been known to wear the popular Simkhai sequin fringe skirt on several occasions but styled in different ways: first casually with a turtleneck and tall boots and then for a night on the town with the full sequin set’s matching sequin crop top. Versatile sequins are all my wardrobe needs! Simkhai also has beautiful formalwear perfect for those special-occasion events. I love his silk and embellished maxis and one of his signatures—the intricate crochet pieces, from tiny tops to full dresses. You really can’t go wrong with any Simkhai pieces. There’s truly something for every day and every occasion.”
“I bought my first Simon Miller bell-sleeve ribbed maxi dress in 2020 at T.A. New York (a fabulous Black-owned boutique) when I was totally unfamiliar with the brand. But once I tried the dress on, I was obsessed. The ribbed pieces are some of the most comfortable yet fashion-forward designs. So simple but so chic. When you want to have fun with fashion, Simon Miller is the way to go. Creative Director Chelsea Hansford’s retro Cali cool-girl style is all about bold prints, bright patterns, dayglow sequins and layered mesh, funky yet flattering silhouettes, and statement accessories—from their metallic boots and chunky clogs to their mirrorball earrings and eclectic handbags. I always feel chic, comfortable, and happy in Simon Miller, which is really all you can ask for when it comes to fashion.”
“Brandon Blackwood’s bags are next-level. If you’re bored of the luxury brands and It bags that everyone is already wearing, you need to take a look at Blackwood’s latest collection. I have two bags from the brand, and every time I wear them, people are asking me where I got them from. They’re unique and so fun. While the brand is known for its accessories, you have to check out the clothes too.”
“Any time I get a chance to talk about Andrea Iyamah, I take it. She designs ‘wow’ pieces that capture everyone’s attention and are designed for your next vacation. This is another brand that’s anything but boring—3D designs, bright colors, and cutouts are what she’s known for. Iyamah is Nigerian and does some of her work in Lagos. The culture’s fun spirit shines through in the clothing.”
“This brand was recently in the Black in Fashion Council showroom during NYFW, and I can’t stop thinking about the crystal embellishments. I need a cocktail and vacation stat, and I need to wear this dress!!”
“From drop-off to dinner with my girls, this trench is my go-to. The print is really fun, and you can dress it up with heels or pair it with sneakers.”
Fumi the Label
“This was my birthday dress this year. I sadly didn’t take any pictures of myself in it. I loved the color and that you can button it up or down for a sexier look.”
“I think every woman should own this dress.”
“Brandon is my friend, [my] client, and [an] incredible designer. I wore a smilar dress to this one when he hosted the Oscar carpet last year, and I’ve never looked or felt better.”
Photo:CHRISTIAN VIERIG/GETTY IMAGES
Christopher John Rogers
“I’m never one to shy away from some color, and no one does it quite like Christopher John Rogers. The Louisiana-born designer has become the fashion industry’s darling over the past few years because of his innate ability to fuse impeccable tailoring and bold hues together in a way that’s undeniably joyful.”
“If you want to up your suiting game, then you need to invest in a set from Sergio Hudson. The South Carolina–born designer has become the must-shop place for icons like Michelle Obama and Amal Clooney.”
“One of my favorite up-and-coming luxury footwear brands is Nalebe. Not only is the designer (Amina Means) incredibly kind, but the shoes are also so fun.”
“Diotima may have been founded in 2020, but it’s already managed to garner a following that’s obsessed with the brand, myself included. The designer, Rachel Scott, uses crochet, mesh, and linen to channel her Jamaican heritage, pairing them with tailoring and classic silhouettes to make them feel modern.”
“Now, there are so many noteworthy Black-owned bag brands, but as of late, I can’t leave my house without seeing a Vavvoune bag. The brand’s uniquely shaped leather silhouettes are easy to spot and well-made and can’t seem to escape my mind.”
“I just bought their Woven Wax miniskirt, and I’m so excited to wear it out. I rarely find micro skirts in my size with the same shape as the straight-size design, so I am really loving this brand already.”
“Öfuurë is my go-to brand when I want a statement dress, which honestly is all the time! Being from Miami where it’s sunny and 75° all year round, I’m so used to just wearing dresses style-wise. Öfuurë always does it for me, especially with their vibrant prints and infinity dresses. One dress can be styled in so many ways, which really helps me feel like I’m not wearing the same dress over and over again.”
“I am a Hanifa girl through and through. I love the way Anifa’s clothes make me feel, and I’ve probably worn this blue dress more times than I can count. Whenever I wear it out, I get so many compliments.”
“Accessory-wise, I love Homage Year. Not only is the founder Antoine an incredible human being, but his vision for Homage Year is so fun to watch. This bag is also a piece in my closet that whenever I wear it out I get stopped and asked where it’s from. It’s chic and the perfect size to fit all the miscellaneous things I need to carry with me day to day.”
“Wray is another brand I love wearing because they’re so focused on actually making fashion inclusive. They carry an XXS to a 6XL, which is rarely seen, and they continue to prove that you can create clothes for all body types.”
“I’m a big accessory girl, so it’s important for me to find really fun and eclectic pieces that feel super one-of-a-kind. Edas has everything from crotched hats to leather bags to statement earrings. I’m quite tempted to stop by the brand’s studio here in NYC for a shopping appointment because, at this point, I want one of everything.”
“This brand has been a favorite of mine for years now, but lately, I’ve been seeing my favorite influencers sporting Hanifa, and my wish list is growing. Not only are the colors rich and eye-catching, but the silhouettes are also unique and interesting. I love how size inclusive Hanifa is too. Every season, I catch myself scrolling the new-arrivals page for the latest additions to my wardrobe.”
“What first pushed me into buying a Telfar bag was seeing it on Issa Rae from Insecure. The costume designer, Shiona Turini, always did an amazing job with incorporating Black-owned brands into the characters’ wardrobes. I really love Telfar’s mission of being affordable and still supplying luxury staples to the community.”
Honor the Gift
“Another one of my favorites is Honor the Gift, owned by NBA athlete Russell Westbrook. I love the duality of the garments, and I often lean toward the men’s items, but I think the women’s leather trench coat has my heart. Russell has also been known for his NBA tunnel-walk outfits, but having a clothing collection is a whole new ballpark! It has been exciting watching the team elevate the collections each season.”
“Lastly, I’ve been enamored by the handbag brand Homage Year, designed by Antoine Manning. Everyone who knows me has seen me sporting my pink Valentine’s Day edition Homage bag, and trust me—I get compliments every time. The creativity that goes into each colorway has me hooked every drop.”
“I love everything about Yam. Beautiful pieces like these super-cute earrings are made right here in NYC using deadstock materials. It’s the type of business you feel really good rooting for.”
Oma the Label
“I’m in the midst of building my optimal everyday necklace stack. I love this piece and many others from Oma the Label. Not only are the pieces top-notch, but it’s also Nigerian owned. As a Nigerian woman myself, it feels great getting to support Oma.”
“As far as inclusive sizing goes, Wray really walks the walk. Every single drop has a very wide range of sizes, making it the ultimate place to shop for cool, artsy, fashion-forward items. This green leather jacket from the brand’s latest drop is giving. I just want everything.”
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- Black History Month