It’s time to get familiar with some of the most innovative African-American designers around. Here are some designers you should know, or get to know.
1. Stephen Burrows
Burrows entered the fashion world in 1966 when women’s fashion was heavily structured. He went against the grain and designed sportswear, using stretch fabrics to create a slim silhouette.
( Photo: Monica Feudi / GoRunway.com)
Style: Bold, colorful and easy. Classic American sportswear with a twist.
Seen On: Michelle Obama, Naomi Campbell, Eva Longoria
Tracy Reese began her career in fashion in 1984 as an apprentice to many high profile designers. The Tracy Reece collection made its debut in the spring of
1998. Plenty by Tracy Reese, a lower priced bohemian inspired line, was released later the same year. Since then, the Tracy Reese brand has expanded into footwear, hosiery and a home collection.
(Photo: Yannis Vlamos / GoRunway.com)
Style: Sophisticated, elegant pieces with timeless silhouettes. Feminine and flirty.
Seen On: Gabrielle Union, Ciara & Kelly Rowland, Alicia Keys
3. Rachel Roy
Rachel Roy began her stint in fashion as an intern for Rocawear. She later launched her own line in 2004, eventually expanding into ready to wear, resort and handbag collections. Roy recently debuted a collection designed in collaboration with Amar’e Stoudemire. A must have for Hollywood starlets, rock stars and stylish businesswomen everywhere.
Style: Classic and chic. Old Hollywood silhouettes with modern styling.
Seen On: Gabrielle Union, Kerry Washington, Kim Kardashian
4. Dexter and Byron Peart of WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie
In 2006 Canadian brothers Dexter and Byron Peart founded NYC based WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie, a line of premium leather goods created to carry our daily “essentials”—laptop, iPad, phone, etc. Their collection of bags, wallets, phone cases and luggage is a perfect marriage of style and function.
Style: Stylish professional with impeccable attention to detail
Seen On: Karl- Spotted on the streets of Soho, We have no doubt that WANT Les Essentiels de la Vie will be a must have for countless celebrities and anyone that wants to travel in style.
5. Maya Lake for Boxing Kitten
Maya Lake started Boxing Kitten as a self taught designer, at first creating her signature vibrant print pieces for friends. She has since become a go-to designer for women wanting to look fun and playful. Lake combines her love of vintage-inspired shapes with African wax block and batik prints to produce truly unique eye-catching pieces.
(Photo: The Fashion Bomb)
Style: Maya describes the look of Boxing Kitten as “ethnic rockabilly”. Ladylike silhouettes with bold African prints, these designs are definitely for those that don’t mind being noticed.
Seen on: Solange Knowles, Erykah Badu, Rihanna
6. Willi Smith
Willi Donnell Smith (February 29, 1948 – April 17, 1987) was one of the most successful young African-American fashion designers in fashion history. At the time of his death, his company Williwear Ltd. sold $25 million worth of clothing a year.
Style: Youthful and often unfitted, his clothes had a free-flowing look that often featured unusual color combinations. Smith also introduced a design innovation by matching plaids, stripes, and colors in single articles of clothing.
Seen on: He designed the suits for Edwin Schlossberg and his groomsmen when he married Caroline Kennedy in 1986. Smith also designed the uniforms and clothes for Spike Lee’s film School Daze (1987).