Kerby Jean-Raymond

Black Luxury Brands: Redefining High-End Fashion


Feb. 20 2024, Published 3:31 p.m. ET

The fashion industry has long been dominated by well-established luxury brands with a history of excluding people of color from their advertising campaigns. Do you know that only 10% of fashion and accessory brands are black-owned? Nevertheless, black-owned luxury brands are emerging as trailblazers, reshaping the narrative of luxury. This movement carries on a rich and vibrant history of Black culture and influence on fashion trends today.

As noted in an article by Virginia Commonwealth University, "the Black community has had a consistent and enduring influence on the fashion industry, but while some trends have been attributed to Black designers, often the origins are left largely uncredited. Hoop earrings, lettuce hems, acrylic nails and flapper dresses are only some of the diverse and sustained contributions that Black communities have made to fashion....When reflecting on the forced labor that enslaved people did, many think of cotton and other crops, but less frequently do they consider the work enslaved people did weaving fabrics and the managing the dyeing processes such as the use of indigo."

What started in the roots of slavery has now grown to true Black representation and embodiment. Beyond the conventional standards, these brands infuse diversity, innovation, and cultural richness into the very fabric of luxury. Join me as we spotlight and celebrate the Black-owned luxury brands that are redefining the script of high-end fashion.

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1. Pyer Moss: A Visionary Narrative

At the forefront of redefining high-end fashion is Pyer Moss, a brand that seamlessly blends couture with social activism. Founded in 2013 by Kerby Jean-Raymond, Pyer Moss challenges the industry's norms by integrating powerful messages about race and identity into its designs. The brand's commitment to storytelling makes each piece not just an article of clothing but a piece of cultural history.

2. Cushnie: Empowering Elegance

Carly Cushnie's eponymous brand, Cushnie, is a masterclass in modern elegance. Known for its sleek silhouettes and clean lines, Cushnie combines complexity with empowerment. The brand's luxurious designs celebrate the strength and grace of women, offering a fresh perspective on femininity in high fashion. It is a breath of fresh air for the Black community looking for great fashion trends.

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3. Fe Noel: Caribbean-Inspired Opulence

Fe Noel, founded by Felisha Noel, brings Caribbean vibrancy to the world of luxury fashion. With a focus on bold colors, striking patterns, and effortless silhouettes, the brand captures the essence of the Caribbean spirit. Noel's designs redefine opulence by infusing it with the warmth and vitality of her heritage and make the Fe Noel brand a vibrant example of Black culture.

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4. Hanifa: Technological Innovation in Couture

Anifa Mvuemba's Hanifa is not just a luxury brand; it's a technological marvel that takes Black fashion trends to a whole new level. The Hanifa brand gained international acclaim with its 3D digital fashion show, showcasing the future of high-end fashion. Mvuemba's avant-garde approach to design and presentation challenges traditional notions of luxury, ushering in a new era of innovation.

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5. Brother Vellies: Sustainable Splendor

Aurora James, the visionary behind Brother Vellies, has redefined luxury through a lens of sustainability and inclusivity. Known for its exquisite handmade shoes and accessories, the brand prioritizes ethical production and showcases the beauty of diverse craftsmanship. Brother Vellies proves that luxury can be both opulent and mindful of its environmental footprint.

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6. Telfar: Democratizing Luxury

Telfar Clemens, the creative force behind Telfar, aims to democratize luxury and to keep the Black culture and inspiration alive and well within the fashion industry. The brand's iconic Shopping Bag has become a symbol of accessibility and inclusivity in high fashion. Telfar's designs challenge the exclusivity often associated with luxury, making bold statements about ownership and belonging.

7. Ozwald Boateng: Savile Row Excellence

Ozwald Boateng, a trailblazer in bespoke tailoring, has brought Savile Row craftsmanship to a global audience. His mastery in tailoring has redefined menswear, blending traditional British elegance with a modern, cosmopolitan flair. Boateng's designs represent sartorial excellence within the Black-owned luxury landscape and continue to challenge the norms of fashion, beauty, and elegance.

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8. Christopher John Rogers: Avant-Garde Extravagance

Christopher John Rogers injects avant-garde extravagance into the world of luxury fashion and lends a voice to Black cultural inspirations in a new and exciting way. With bold colors, voluminous silhouettes, and a fearless approach to design, Rogers challenges the status quo. His brand celebrates individuality and self-expression, proving in a powerful way that luxury knows no bounds.

9. LaQuan Smith: Glamorous Edge

LaQuan Smith's eponymous brand is synonymous with a glamorous edge. Known for his daring silhouettes and luxurious fabrics, Smith's designs have graced red carpets and captivated fashion enthusiasts. His work embodies a modern take on high-end fashion, with a touch of audacity that redefines glamour- this makes LaQuan Smith's brand a popular choice for Black women everywhere.

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10. Maki Oh: Heritage-Infused Luxury

Maki Oh, founded by Amaka Osakwe, seamlessly weaves traditional African techniques into contemporary luxury. The Black-designed brand's fashion styles and items tell a story of heritage and craftsmanship, challenging Western-centric narratives in high fashion. Maki Oh as a brand is a testament to the richness of African culture within the global luxury conversation.

Not Just Designers

These Black-owned luxury brands are not just designers but architects of a new era in high-end fashion. Their designs challenge norms, celebrate diversity and redefine opulence by infusing cultural richness into every thread. As we celebrate these visionaries, it's clear the future of luxury is diverse, inclusive, and resplendently adorned with the unique narratives of Black designers.

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