As a champion of new and emerging designers and as an editor who is so passionate about trying to shed light on them, I constantly see how hard it is to break into the fashion industry. At least from the periphery I witness the struggle. Add being a person of color on top of the everyday challenge’s other designers face and that struggle becomes even harder.
That’s why it’s not only necessary but so important that the incredible Black Design Collective exists. Co-founded by Angela Dean, Kevan Hall and TJ walker, the Black Design Collective is there to help designers of color break into the fashion industry. Offering scholarships as well as real tangible advice to designers, giving them the opportunity to learn more about the logistical steps it takes to break in or to elevate their business to make it even more of a success.
On Saturday 11th November I was invited by FIDM who was hosting the Black Design Collective’s first annual pop-up showcase to meet the three founders as well as some of the emerging designers who are now a part of the Black Design Collective.
(FIDM event photos by Tyler Curtis ABImages)
I first speak to co-founder and designer, Kevan Hall who has dressed everyone from First Lady Michelle Obama to Charlize Theron and Viola Davis. Hall tells me, “We started this organization for several reasons, we wanted to be able to mentor young design students and not only students but also colleagues who might have questions like, ‘How do I market my collection? How do I take my business to the next level? Where can I find zippers and buttons, where are the good pattern makers?’ So we really came together as a community to support and uplift one another. And secondly, we wanted to start a scholarship fund. We started one to help design students pursue their dreams of being either a fashion designer or a costume designer. So this year we gave a $10,000 scholarship fund to a design student, Devert Monet Hickman, Ruth Carter the costume designer Oscar winner for Black Panther gave him that scholarship back in April. We also are creating a platform for designers to be able to sell their clothing online under the Black Designer Collective banner. So people will be able to shop the homepage and link to the designer’s websites, so that is something that is in the works. And then we do workshops and seminars and things that have to do with funding and financing. We really look at the scope and ask, what is the need of the designer? How can we help them move their business and inform that and expose their talent to the world?”
Kevan continues, “It’s a legacy, what can we do for the next generation of designers to work at a very high level”
Kevan Hall has his own incredible collection that really is about fitting into a woman’s life. Ponte dresses that are both comfortable and keep you looking put together. Taking his woman from the office to the bar with office appropriate dresses that will look just as good for a dinner with friends. Easy to wear pieces that are designed to either be worn from head to toe looks, such as his trouser twin set top / pantsuit perfect for work or as separates at the weekend. Blazers that can be worn over dresses, or over a pair of jeans. Stunning white shirts that can be worn with workwear trousers or for an evening event paired with a ball gown skirt. Silhouettes that represent those who like more of a bodycon style as well as those who are more inclined to a softer more billowy aesthetic. All sizes and all ages are covered.
Angela Dean: PRESIDENT AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE BLACK DESIGN COLLECTIVE. FOUNDER OF DEANZIGN / SHAPED BY AN ANGEL
Dean continues, “Ruth Carter is a friend of mine and I had noticed that she had never been recognized for her body of work. She’s got various awards for movies but she hasn’t been recognized for her body of work. I thought that was super important.”
This ignited something in Dean, and she told Kevan that they needed to go to FIDM to see if they would be interested in hosting an event. FIDM jumped on board, and so the pop-up came about, bringing in other designers that represent the history and relevancy to the world. Taking on this mission, Dean tells me she wants to spread it not just in America (starting with Los Angeles and New York), but eventually with the hope of rolling it out globally by 2022. “We want to create generational wealth the way the Ralph Lauren’s have and the Valentino’s have, we deserve to have those opportunities.” Dean’s incredible vision is exemplified in front of me as I see the wonderful designers she has already touched with the Black Design Collective, her vision and her drive to pay it forward.
“Collectively we can do so much more than we can individually” Dean says, “So we can have a bigger voice like we see today. We are able to see all the beautiful work of some of the selected designers and this is just a small portion of it.” FIDM have been a huge supporter as Dean tells me, “We have to thank FIDM because they have been one of our major supporters and sponsors for these types of events and they have just embraced our community and embraced us. Kevan and I are alumni’s and we went to Toni (Tonian Hohberg) the owner and told her what our plight was and she was all in from the beginning.”
Angela Dean THE DESIGNER
I created and designed these shapewear designs based on the five most common body types. So they are customized to the various body types. And the panels I’ve put in work to accentuate those various areas that are problem areas and they are compression. So it’s compression shapewear which helps with blood flow, reduces cellulite, our fabric is very high-end, in terms of the fact that it keeps you from having bacteria, keeps you cool and fresh, you can work out in it so they have a lot of various different properties, it just shows the various ways you can transform the body. It has been one of the highlights of my career. This is a passion now for me. I have done the entertainment business, I have done custom work, but there is nothing like changing a woman’s body and mindset instantaneously. You can put on a dress and feel great but if you have got on a great shaper, oh my god, it changes the game. I don’t care how big or how little you are, if you can change their shape you’ve got something special.” Indeed she does.
For more information visit: www.shapedbyanangel.com / www.deanzign.com
One of the co-founders of Black Design Collective as well as a FIDM instructor and co-founder (along with Carl Jones) of streetwear brand, Cross Color which is currently celebrating its 30th anniversary with an exhibition at The California African American Museum in Los Angeles has a lot to celebrate. With a celebrity following including the likes of Will Smith, Snoop Dog, Tupac Shakur, Cardi B and Bruno Mars the collection Walker is showing today he tells me, is based upon “The project we did back in the 90s. We started in 1989 and this celebrates our 30th anniversary of the brand. The baseball top is based on the one that Bruno Mars wore on the stage at the Grammys when he performed.”
To find out more visit: www.crosscolours.com
For more information visit: www.sergiohudson.com
Charles Harbison / HARBISON COLLECTION
For more information visit: www.harbisoncollection.com
OKERA BANKS / OTG ESSENTIALS BY OKERA BANKS
Celebrity stylist and designer, Okera Banks saw a need to create a collection of women’s clothing that she simply couldn’t find on the market. She is a busy woman, going from being a mom, a caretaker to her mother, to going on set where she works as a stylist, and may even then have an event to go to in the evening and she needed, required her wardrobe to work hard to get her through each of these situations in her life all the while allowing her to be comfortable and to feel sexy and most importantly do it with ‘swag’. Banks’ collection is here for, “Today’s swaged-out and sophisticated entrepreneurs, fashion conscious trend-setters and travelers on-the-go who want comfort and ease with impeccable style.”
Banks was literally designing for herself and for other women like her as she tells me, “One thing that never dies is comfort. It started with a tube dress, I was like I can’t find a tube dress when I need a tube dress, so I made one, so it happened very organically. I had other designs in me, and people really responded well to it. They were like, can I get that? We are all working women, some are moms, some aren’t but we all have this life that moves and we just sort of forget about ourselves, we wear t-shirts and jeans or workout wear. I mean I love a good pair of sweatpants but they aren’t clothes. How do we hold on to looking chic after life happens?”
For more information visit: www.otgessentials.com
melena ruth / melena ruth design
Melena Ruth has created a beautiful collection of bags, many of which are made up of tapestry that are made by women in South Africa. Ruth is slowly introducing tapestry from other places in the world. The one that she is introducing first is one from Guatemala. With a selection of clutches, backpacks and work bags.
Her inspiration in starting up her brands was the hand embroidery. Ruth wanted to find a way to give back to the people in Africa. Most of the women there live on under two dollars a day and she thought if she could take what they make it make it into a beautiful piece, then she can share the proceeds of the profits with them, with the main goal Ruth tells me, “Of sending their girls to school, so that’s the story of why I wanted to start it up.”
For more information visit: http://www.malenaruth.com
BT TAYLOR / BT TAYLOR JEWELRY
Artist, child activist and poet, Taylor came to make jewelry, initially just for himself. It was peaceful for him. However when he was wearing his jewelry people would want to buy it from him, literally buying pieces from him off of his own body! So Taylor created his own collection. His inspiration is indigenous people from around the world. His one of a kind jewelry is hand-crafted using semi-precious gemstones, metals and ethnic beads.
Taylor has been working with incarcerated children for over twenty years, and even now gives jewelry classes to the children that he works with. Taylor tells me that he loves being a part of The Black Design Collective, signing up as soon as he could and learning so much from the workshops that have been made available to him.
WARAIRE BOSWELL / WARAIRE
Included in the collection are some PJ suits, some t-shirts, and jackets. The collection balance both comfort and luxury for both men and women. Included in the collection is fine suiting and striking loungewear.
For more information visit:
With thanks to FIDM and the Black Design Collective.