As a black woman, I find it very important to have representation in the design world. I remember growing up and flipping through fashion magazines and not seeing any designers that looked like me. Nowadays, more and more black brands, designers, and artists are becoming household names. These designers have created a space for future generations to be more creative and have the confidence to express themselves. So I thought, I would share my favorite black-owned brands and designers inspire me.
Andrea Iyamah is a Nigerian fashion designer and the owner of her namesake brand Andrea Iyamah. The brand is widely known for its eclectic and colorful swimwear. The brand also specializes in ready-to-wear and custom garments, such as wedding dresses. One thing I truly admire about Andrea Iyamah is that the clothing line is strongly influenced by color, ethnic cultures, nature, and design elements.
Sika is a fashion brand based out of London with all of its garments manufactured in Ghana. Founder Phyllis Taylor created the brand to celebrate the colorful and bold prints of West Africa. Some of my favorite items are the one-shoulder red and white striped midi dress as well as the African print puffer jacket.
Tongoro is a fashion brand that is 100% made in Africa. All products are designed and produced in Dakar, Senegal. Designer and founder Sarah Diouf created the brand with the main focus on understanding the fashions that are in demand by consumers while making them playful and unique. You can find items from flowy beautiful printed dresses to easy wide-leg sheer pants. Her brand has been worn by celebrities such as Beyonce and Naomi Campbell.
Founder and designer Akosua Afriyie-Kumi created AAKS with the goal of introducing the world to her favourite weaving techniques. All items are produced by the women of Ghana while also creating and igniting sustainable jobs within Africa. They have everything you can think off from Shoulder bags to beach totes.
Founded by Rene Macdonald, Lisou is a London-Based fashion brand that specializes in silk pieces with a fun and quirky twist. Rene aims to create garments that women all ages can enjoy from the age of 19-70 years old. Her collections are full of pieces that are both classic yet modern with a twist. Inspired by her African culture and travels, she creates all prints in-house making each garment unique.
Max Hosa is an African knitwear brand, founded by Laduma. The line first started as a method to explore knitwear design solutions for the Xhosa ( a dominant ethnic group in South Africa). What started as an experiment has grown to become a modern Xhosa-inspired knitwear collection that would be suitable for international markets. The brand is known for its graphic patterns and use of geometric shapes. My favorite items range from geometric printed pants to long brightly colored geometric dresses.
Stella Jean is an Italian Designer of Haitian descent. She is the founder of her namesake brand Stella Jean. She is internationally known for her colorful button-down shirts, graphic skirts, and printed dresses.
Studio 189 is a lifestyle brand by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah. The brand’s main focus is creating sustainable jobs, supporting education and skills training, while empowering communities throughout Africa. One of my favorite things about Studio 189 is that it focuses on creating pieces using traditional craftsmanship methods; such as hand-batik dyeing to kente weaving.
Fe Noel is a luxury womenswear brand based out of Brooklyn NY. Founder and designer Felisha Noel effortlessly merges her Caribbean heritage and her love for vibrant colors and bold prints. From a pair of sheer wide-legged pants to an oversized floral robe with puff sleeves, everything from her brand embraces glamor and femininity. Some of my favorite items are the Daughter of Soil Knit sweater and the Carenage Stripe Pant.
Sai Sankoh is a luxury resort fashion brand that combines vintage and modern styles. Created by Sierra Leone native, Sai Sankoh, the brand is inspired by the glitz and glamour of Old Hollywood. Sai Sankoh is internationally known for its boldly printed and easy going garments.
Diarra Bousso is entrepreneur and founder of Diarrablu, a contemporary lifestyle brand. Her main goal is to celebrate her African heritage while empowering her local communities. Many of the pieces are produced in Dakar, Senegal focusing primarily on sustainability. What is also very interesting about this brand is that it embraces the uses of mathematical algorithms to create iconic prints. My favorite items consist of their numerous convertible jumpsuits and color printed kimonos.