Fashion | January 8th, 2021
Black Designers Redefining Fashion
By: Ebony Houston
For centuries the top leaders in fashion dictated the beauty standards of the industry, while gatekeeping those who didn’t fit the mold. But as years progressed those same top creators noticed how vital those left out were to the fashion movement. The Black community is taking the lead of many celebrities and activists with the “buy Black” movement to support Black-owned businesses. This movement surfaced alongside the nationwide protests of the unjust killings of unarmed Black women and men, helping shed light on a new wave of creatives who previously lacked exposure.
“Black people are the nucleus of all industries, whether we are given credit or not. We must make sure we are celebrated and given all the praises for it,” said Mellissa Mitchell of Abeille Creations.
Mitchell, who got her start as a public relations student at Florida A&M University, is the true definition of multifaceted. Mitchell has taken the art and fashion industry by storm with her unique painting style and brightly creative designs. Her designs have been printed on just about every type of wardrobe piece that you can think of and her creations can be worn as statement pieces, sought after along-side some of the most notable high-end designer accessories to date.
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“I think representation is only partly important. If you want to follow your dreams, it doesn’t matter who is or isn’t doing it. It’s dope to see someone that looks like me, but it is even more dope to be the person to open the doors for others by being the first,” said Mitchell, who also works in the IT industry.
“Black creatives need to set the tone for fashion…”
The group of people that may have once been deemed urban are now taking those same stereotypes and rewriting the definition of high-end fashion. This is proven by Black designers taking once urban accessories like durags and making them into now high-end designs. Designers like Tom Ford following suit and using durags as a staple piece in his runway show proves the theory that people really may love Black culture more than Black people, but they most definitely are paying attention.
“Black creatives need to set the tone for fashion, more than what’s given. Our culture births our creativity and that’s what we do it for: the passion, representation and the love of our culture,” said Megan Grandberry, owner of Thrifted Hands Boutique.
Grandberry says that there was not a lot of representation of people that looked like her growing up and that her first inspiration for fashion was her mother. Her mother, showing her that she can be a respectfully fashionable woman of color, served as her muse until recently when she found women alike with the same passion on social media. Grandberry also said that social media platforms like Instagram have helped shed a bright light on creatives in art, fashion, photography and more.
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“No one else can tell our story like we can and I think that’s the beauty of these new designers coming out because everyone has their own stories…We owe that to blacks all around because we were born being the minority, the most hated and the most frowned upon so everyone always sees us in that light. It’s our duty to transition our narrative in the world and show people the light within us and the extraordinary feel of blackness,” said Saphyra St. Fort, Owner of Saint Fort the Brand.
The Black children of this generation are setting fire to the world one industry at a time.
St. Fort, who has always had a love of fashion, said that she started taking sewing classes at a local fabric store and later enrolled in Art School in New York after graduating from Florida State University. She prides her brand on being a brand of purpose that creates signature pieces for special occasions. One of her proudest moments to date came after interning with a woman that was not of color and over hearing her tell a peer that she could be like St. Fort making clothing for just her family and friends to now selling out of her designs on her website within a day.
St. Fort’s unique designs have caught the eye and recognition of world-renowned celebrities, but she has still been grounded in the small milestones of reaching people around the world with her gift and passion.
Black people are making a statement far beyond fashion and the world finally paying homage is overdue yet necessary. As the African proverb says, “The child who is not embraced by the village, will burn it down to feel its warmth.” The Black children of this generation are setting fire to the world one industry at a time.