Influencers of Black Fashion by Hanifah Jones
Growing up, I was always enamored by the fashion industry. I would read fashion magazines and watch runway shows and noticed something. Where were the faces that I could relate to?
It’s no secret that the fashion industry is infamous for its lack of diversity and inclusivity. As a consumer, I often find myself discouraged by the lack of representation in the field. The recent H&M “coolest monkey in the jungle” made me wonder if such a disastrous “misjudgment” would have happened if there were more Black people in high positions in the fashion industry.
While there is still a lot of work to be done, I find it important that we recognize Black influencers in the fashion industry who are working to make a change.
One of the most influential Black faces in the fashion industry belongs to Virgil Abloh. Named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world, Abloh was recently named artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear line. He is also the CEO of Off-White, a fashion house that he founded in 2012. Abloh is also well known for designing the cover art for Jay-Z and Kanye West’s joint album ‘Watch the Throne’, and he is currently working on collaborative projects with Ikea and Nike.
Another Black designer who has made waves in the fashion world is LaQuan Smith. Known for dressing celebrities like Beyoncé and Rihanna, Smith is the CEO of his brand LaQuan Smith, LLC. Smith’s work is defined by its daring glamour and edginess.
Fashion journalism is another aspect of the fashion industry where diversity is needed. Elaine Welteroth served as the Editor and Chief of Teen Vogue, making her the first Black person to hold the position. Although she has since announced that she is parting ways with the magazine, her influence will always be present. Under her leadership, Teen Vogue became explicitly more diverse, tackling issues regarding social justice and cultural appropriation.
Social Justice found its way onto the runway thanks to Kerby Jean-Raymond, the founder of Pyar Moss. In 2016 Jean-Raymond brought the Black Lives Matter movement to Fashion Week by playing videos of police brutality during his New York Fashion Week show.
While there are many more Black influencers in the fashion world that were not named, the industry is undoubtedly become more diverse. Many of these influencers are using their voice to fight for social justice and to disband racism within the fashion world.