Beyond Women’s History Month: Black Women Fashion Designers You Should Know
Women’s History Month may be over, but we recognize Black women all year round (24/7, 365 Days) for their numerous contributions to society, culture and our daily lives. We at Essence, want to make sure that celebration continues, so here, we focused our attention on Black women in fashion—bringing to your attention the many emerging Black women-owned brands/ designers who style our world with their artistic talents, beautiful clothes, and eye for style.
We believe it’s important to spotlight these women and their brands, as fashion can tend to be a male-dominated sector. So, we’ve compiled a list of a few fantastic ladies, breaking into the fashion industry. From Fe Noel’s vibrant flowy gowns, to Anima Iris’ pantone colored bags; these tastemakers are keeping the doors open for other Black women to walk through. From high-end and artisanal brands to more accessible and suitable brands, we got you covered.
Get to know some of these stylish minds, check out their brands, give them a shout-out, or better yet, spend a coin or two!
A New York-based fashion designer and the founder of Muehleder, which debuted in 2014 and quickly became known for its unconventional use of neoprene fabrication — most commonly found in scuba diving suits — in feminine shapes with flare and volume, boldly exposed zippers, pops of color, and intricate lace fabric overlays and trim.
Abisola Omoyele (Yelé)
Inspired by Omoyele’s Yoruba Nigerian culture, Yelestitches couture designs invaded the European luxury fashion scene. The Baltimore designer has also made a name for herself in the African Luxury Fashion industry by creating unique designs that fit each of her clients perfectly.
Adams, who holds a Bachelor’s degree in fashion design and a Master’s diploma in business, was inspired to start Slim Pickings as a method to empower consumers with clothing that complements their specific style while also making them feel confident and distinct.
Felisha “Fe” Noel
Noel has perfected the capacity to bottle up culture and glamour combined with sensuality, thanks to her Grenadian roots. Fe Noel was founded by the Brooklynite with a passion for travel, brilliant colors, and bold prints, as well as a desire to help women embrace their femininity.
V’Che was started in 2019 by the Dallas native with the goal of creating contemporary, chic, and sophisticated women’s clothing that empowers women with confidence.
Murphy’s premium streetwear, named after her daughter Alani Taylor, debuted in 2016, catering to those who dare to wear outstanding gender-neutral statement pieces that are innovative and redefining the fashion industry.
Jazmin’s passion for beauty and fashion grew in 2017 when she launched Life of G.O.D.S., a brand of luxurious fur jackets. K. Michelle, Cardi B, and Stevie J., among others, wore a range of her items on television and in magazines, as the brand catapulted on the scene.
25-year old Autty Simone, is the leader of a small but mighty team. Following her launch in 2020, the Miami-based socialite and company owner quadrupled her sales in 2021, providing daily drops of some of the most fashionable and forward-thinking styles available.
Leanne & Ibeam
While working in retail in London in 2014, the fashion duo connected. Ibeam was born as a result of their shared ambition for creating something special using Ibeam’s love for creative apparel design and Leanne’s drive to develop an empire.
After a breakup, Batiste founded Rejected Hearts Club with the goal of regaining her independence by giving hearts back one piece at a time. Each piece of handcrafted jewelry evolves into a statement piece that commands attention and confidence.
When the Bronx-born designer was a child, she became engrossed in her aunt’s clothing and accessories, which sparked her interest in fashion. M. Marie shoes are coveted today for their craftsmanship, elaborate design, and detailing. Fearless silhouettes and combinations of textures and volume loaded with splendor are adored by ladies all around the world.
The Haitian-American designer and creative director of Bien Abyé built a fashion lifestyle brand that conveys the value of looking beautiful while embracing all areas of one’s personal life.
The Jamaican-born, New York-based designer was inspired to launch Auvere in October 2017 after finding it practically impossible to buy high-karat gold jewelry almost anywhere. The intricate designs of the brand are made with true and pure 22 & 24 karat gold.
Martin founded the luxury handbag label BALDWIN ERA with the aim of helping bring Black luxury companies into the mainstream. Martin believes that no outfit is complete without a handbag, and she has made it her mission to keep breaking down barriers within the fashion space.
Nomads Swimwear is a destination-themed swimwear brand founded in 2019 and inspired by Long’s foreign travels and experiences as a plus-size model. It boasts distinctive cuts and styles, one-of-a-kind prints, and long-lasting fabrics.
Andrea Dumebi Iyamah
Andrea Iyamah is a clothing company founded in 2011 that is heavily influenced by the designers’ heritage and natural elements. The Nigerian fashion designer uses design aspects that are loyal to her African background to create authentic clothes and vacation wear. The vivid colors, modern femininity, retro classic silhouettes, and a contemporary edge, inspired by travel and nature, appeal to the A. I lady who is an adventurer in heart, mind, and style.
Anekhe, the founder of Oma the Label, draws inspiration from her Scandinavian and African ancestors to create one-of-a-kind jewelry items. Her goal is to represent women of color and diversify the industry, which has historically been underrepresented by Black women.
Bishop, who comes from a family of seamstresses, unmistakably became a fashion designer with a fresh vision and a youthful aesthetic approach. Deity New York fashion maintains a high level of sophistication while still becoming edgy and dramatic.
Issabeau was founded by a self-taught designer with an inherent sense of artistry with the goal of bringing couture to a younger age. The Nigerian-born designer is proud of the fact that her couture gowns are crafted using hand-selected materials obtained from all around the world and combined with the finest craftsmanship.
Brittany Kozerski Freeney
Freeney founded JADE Swim in 2017, while still working at Marie Claire as a fashion editor. She noticed a gap in the market for high-quality minimal swimwear that could be worn as a swimsuit and double as fantastic layering pieces.
Wilglory founded the multi-million dollar brand Anima Iris with a $5K investment. The brand is on a quest to develop a company in which its pieces are manufactured by Black people and highlight Black stories in a way that luxury fashion has never done before. The handbags are made in Africa by experienced Senegalese artisans.
When Veney started ARCH in her Harlem apartment in 2018, the Baltimore native realized her fashion vision. The brand aims to push the fashion agenda with disruptive, conversation-starting products.
Terese Sydonna is blending magnificent Japanese art and architecture with the vivid designs of her Jamaican culture and home to encourage women to choose pieces that speak to them and honor their spirit, fighting against the fashion industry’s inauthenticity. Every item is designed in New York City with a busy lifestyle in mind, making it simple to achieve a sophisticated wardrobe.
Landrum, the founder of Jevela, was inspired to start a jewelry business after traveling abroad, which led to a three-month backpacking trip around Southeast Asia. Each piece of jewelry is made to motivate, inspire, and encourage people to live their best lives.
Graddick, a self-taught jewelry artisan and lifelong learner, founded HeartWear Jewelry as a faith-based company that does not mass-produce but instead creates pieces in small batches so that each buyer receives a one-of-a-kind item.
After struggling to find apparel that fit her 6’1″ body, the Memphis native decided to become a designer. TJL Collection focuses on everyday wear for ladies 5’9″ and taller, with a focus on pants and jumpsuits.
Perry has created an ultimate fashion moment for socialites and celebs as the designer and founder of CHARWorkroom. After being inspired to start her brand by her distressed denim days, she’s now launched “The Cheeky Shorts,” an iconic closet must-have.
Frazer founded Trèfle, a luxury resort wear company, in 2008. The Caribbean brand specializes in Swim, Resort, and Accessories that have captured the attention of Beyonce and Blue Ivy by blending new print concept designs with exceptional craftsmanship, finishings, and elegance.
Reynolds founded Kendall Miles in 2015 after learning how to design shoes on her own. The Chicago native engaged himself in the skill by obtaining extensive design education at Ars Sutoria in Milan, Italy, a world-renowned accessories design university.
Najla & Cynthia Burt
Dur Doux (pronounced Dur “Do”) is a women’s accessible luxury lifestyle brand founded on the premise of wearability with an avant-garde sensibility by the mother and daughter design team Dur Doux (pronounced Dur “Do”). Unique textured fabrications, unexpected accents, and bold yet feminine designs are all hallmarks of Dur Doux’s work.
Adolophine Lukabu Sheeley
Adolophine was launched in 2018 by Sheeley, a Congolese American, to emphasize craftsmanship and uniqueness in its wide range of products, which are obtained from all across Africa and lovingly made and developed by indigenous crafters.
Sucre’ Couture was established by Kimmie Denise after ten years as a jewelry designer. Sucre’ Couture offers a variety of high-quality, non-tarnish metals and semi-precious gemstones in a variety of fashionable classic necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, and anklets for women.
Tracy Vontélle Green & Nancey Flowers-Harris
Vontélle was established in 2019 to meet the demand for better-fitting, bright, and fashionable eyewear. Each pair of glasses is created and produced to honor Green and Flowers-Harris’ African, Caribbean, and Latin roots, with designs made from easily identifiable, recognizable, and appreciated materials such as mud cloth and kente fabric.
The Togo-born designer used $10,000 to launch her luxury business, Hogoè Kpessou, which aims to promote uniqueness, style, and expression via inventive craftsmanship.
In 2018, Leacock retired from track and field events and began working on designs influenced by her Trinidad and Tobago “gyal” heritage. Each Kaiso.Swim swimwear is made with vibrant designs, clean-cut shapes, and high-quality materials. The ideal combination of luxury and comfort that flatters the figure is a swimsuit.
Lopez-Shealey, the body, intellect, and beauty behind Amor by KL, began her business with a passion for fashion. The luxury swimwear label for women, based in Atlanta, is known for its daring swimwear designs that enhance and celebrate the bodies of all women who wear it.
Clem Swimwear, named after her late aunt Clementine Johnson, was launched in 2016 to provide innovative swimwear for women of all shapes and sizes. Each swimsuit is handcrafted in New York from the best Italian fabric, which flatters a woman’s curves and gives her confidence.
Elabor founded D’IYANU in 2014 from her studio apartment in King of Prussia, PA, fueled by her vision and limited to only six women’s styles—one shirt, two dresses, and three skirts. D’IYANU honors African ancestry with trendy, contemporary apparel for the whole family, offering vibrant prints and innovative designs.
In 2017, the New Orleans native launched her brand to help petite women who have trouble finding clothes (swimwear, resort wear, and loungewear) that fit their larger busts (sizes C-G). Designed By D’Amour sells a variety of travel items, such as unisex vegan leather duffel bags, toiletries bags, and handbags, in addition to clothing.
After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, Milton founded J Marie Premium Sneakers. She desired style, quality, and comfort, as well as vibrant colors. Milton’s premium is 100% Italian leather in premium finishes such as faux zebra, crocodile, and Python, and was designed in Detriot and produced in Italy.