Tracy Reese

Black Fashion Icons Who Shaped the Industry


Dec. 25 2023, Published 7:34 p.m. ET

In a world where fashion trends come and go, the impact of Black fashion designers and models is more important than ever. The influence of Black culture and fashion on the world continues to increase thanks to the creative minds of those making and modeling Black fashions.

Over the past decade, these trailblazers have been shattering stereotypes and changing the very face of the fashion industry -for the better! They challenge norms and redefine what it means to be stylish. Let's look at some of the standout fashion designers and models at the forefront of this transformative wave.

Black Fashion Design Visionaries

  • Tracy Reese: Detroit-born fashion designer Tracy Reese is known for her vibrant and eclectic designs that celebrate femininity. With more than two decades under her belt, Reese has dressed influential figures, including former First Lady Michelle Obama. Her brand reflects a commitment to inclusivity, offering a range of sizes and embracing the diversity of women's bodies. Tracy Reese's impact on the fashion industry reaches far beyond the red carpet and the runway. Every piece highlights her call that style should be accessible to everyone.
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  • Virgil Abloh: As the mind behind Off-White and the creative force steering Louis Vuitton's men's wear collection, Virgil Abloh knew how to shake up the game when it came to making a fashion statement. Mixing streetwise vibes with high-end flair, Abloh followed trends and then made them his own. Taken too soon in 2021 due to cancer, his flare and his unique styles live on in the fashion trends he brought to life. Blending styles, colors, looks, themes, and emotions like none other was the name of the game for Virgil.
  • Dapper Dan (Daniel Day): Style icons celebrate Harlem-based fashion designer and haberdasher Dapper Dan all day long. He is famous for his pioneering work in luxury streetwear and his custom designs that blend high fashion with street culture. Dapper Dan continues solidifying his seat in the industry, enjoying an illustrious career that started in the '80s. There he crafted one-of-a-kind pieces for hip-hop artists and athletes. In 2017, Gucci collaborated with Dapper Dan, cementing his influence in the mainstream fashion scene!
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Black Fashion Models Empowering the Catwalk

  • Adut Akech: South Sudanese-Australian sensation Adut Akech turns heads on the runway, redefining beauty norms. She has strutted her stuff for big names like Chanel, Valentino, and Givenchy, making diversity her signature. Did she win the Model of the Year at the 2019 British Fashion Awards? Yes, this is her! Akech does not just break beauty rules. She paves the way for a fresh wave of models to own their uniqueness.
  • Shaun Ross: Shaun Ross, born in the Bronx, New York, has become a trailblazer, as the first male model with albinism to gain international success. Ross has walked the runways for multiple designers and beyond modeling, he acts, dances, and advocates for diversity and inclusivity in the fashion and entertainment industries. Shaun Ross continues to break barriers, challenging perceptions of beauty and redefining standards in American men’s fashion.
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  • Halima Aden: Halima Aden, a Somali-American model, has broken barriers as the first hijab-wearing model to gain international recognition. Aden's debut in the fashion industry piggybacked off her appearance in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant wearing a hijab and burkini. Since then, she has walked runways for top designers, emphasizing the importance of representation for Muslim women in the world of fashion.

Black Fashion Designers and Models Impact the Industry

Style is more than just clothes, and Black fashion designers and models are rewriting the fashion story. From smashing beauty norms to breaking runway barriers, they are the trendsetters and change-makers needed to foster diversity in the industry. Their contributions, talent, and commitment continuously drive recognition of how the world views and defines the face of fashion.

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