In honor of Black History Month, we’ve decided to launch an editorial initiative, Next Gen, where we’ll be highlighting creatives that are changing the fashion industry. Our intention with this series is to dive deeper into the people that have, and to continue to shape every facet of the fashion industry.
I think it’s safe to say that fashion has had a reckoning with systemic racism over the past few years. A lot of light has been shed on the outdated tropes, tokenization, and cultural appropriation that the industry is littered with and it’s sparked many conversations about what needs to be done to create a more equitable environment in all facets of the industry. Fashion designers, and especially those who have founded their own brands, are in a powerful position to incite real change as they have the unique ability to tell their own stories and do it on their own terms. Being a brand owner not only means designing the products, but it also means playing casting director, production manager, marketer, and many more roles.
Seeing as we’re nearing the end of Black History Month, you’re probably seeing many versions of “Black-Owned Brands to Support Now and Forever” or similar listicles floating around the internet. While the intentions behind them are certainly pure, they tend to gloss over these creatives and the kind of work they’re putting in to make strides in an industry that has held onto the status quo for far too long.
A large part of my job as a digital fashion editor involves being introduced to dozens of new brands all the time, but instead of simply rattling off a list of labels I think you should know about, I wanted to spark a deeper conversation with some of the coolest emerging Black fashion designers right now: the creatives behind the brands EDAS, Brandon Blackwood, Chelsea Paris, and Asata Maisé. Not only should we “support them now and forever”, but we should also listen to what they have to say, take diligent notes, and look to them as the new standards. So, want to know what the future of fashion looks like? Whether it be a sustainable made-to-order business model, an elevated take on upcycled clothing, or a handbag that literally says to end system racism, I suggest you start with these four brands.