Black Designers Took New York Fashion Week By Storm

New York Fashion Week made its valiant return in person after a series of digital

New York Fashion Week made its valiant return in person after a series of digital stents for the past few seasons due to COVID-19. With the excitement around in-person shows and the even more exclusive seating arrangements, the weeklong event easily carried more hype than any regular-season pre-COVID-19.

Within the last two years, the fashion industry has taken a step back to examine the faults in the foundation surrounding diversity. More recently there has been a demand to create more opportunities for Black designers to share the main stage of fashion week.

Organizations like the Black in Fashion Council which emerged near the start of the pandemic are actively working towards providing Black designers with their rightful platform. They hosted their third annual showroom, in the NYFW home base Spring Studios. And groups like Harlem Fashion Row that hosted four Black designers at the beginning of the week.

This season alone we saw a plethora of Black designers emerge to the frontlines of fashion, some even marking historical feats.

Edvin Thompson of Theophilio is amongst the many Black designers who are getting to stand center stage this season. Thompson, who was a 2021 CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund finalist, premiered his Air Jamaica collection this fashion week.

Thompson mentioned that his collection was inspired by heroes and icons from Jamaica Bob Marley, Grace Jones, and Usain Bolt but notes that Bob Marley’s song “Sun is Shining” is the perfect embodiment of the feeling and Caribbean nostalgia he wanted to invoke with his collection.

“I was most excited for everyone to see our finale gown,” Thompson says. “I don’t think initially people saw evening wear as an extension of Theophilio. With our SS22 [Spring/Summer 2022] show we got to show the range of what we can do and still stay true to the sexiness we are known for.”

Black people, historically, have been at the forefront of trends within fashion. While the industry is still grappling with its racial inequities, designers like Thompson understand how important it is to lift while climbing.

“I want Black designers to continue to champion each other,” Thompson says. “It’s necessary that we have that comradery. For our runway show, we made sure to work with Black designers and designers of color like Sunni, Chris Habana, and L’Enchanteur. Theophilio is about family. I hope we continue to see us come together in these ways.”

With all the excitement of fashion week, there was definitely a chance of missing some great talent. Here are all the Black designers that showed this season.

Theophilio is a Brooklyn-based clothing brand for men and women. Jamaican-born designer and creative director Edvin Thompson launched his label in 2016. Celebrating cultural identities and using sustainably sourced and upcycled fabrics are central to Theophilio’s ideology. Theophilio’s SS22 collection, Air Jamaica, is “one that we can all relate to; the desire to return to travel and for some, the ability to return home.” 

Photo by Vogue Runway

Sergio Hudson is a luxury women’s ready-to-wear label designed and produced entirely in Los Angeles. The designer’s work more recently was worn by former First Lady Michelle Obama during the Biden/Harris inauguration. His SS22 collection was all about the “return to glamour.”