9 Influential Black People in Fashion Industry You Should Know

Black people are multitalented, dominating industries not limited to music or sports but also the fashion industry. Today’s fashion wouldn’t be complete and exciting without their contribution to how we dress up and overall improve our style.

For example, who else doesn’t know about black women in fashion industry, like Naomi Campbell, one of the queens who’s embraced by the world audience in the modeling industry, or Tyra Banks, who through the years has broken a lot of barriers and in fact one of the Afro-American women  featured on the Sports Illustrated cover.

In today’s blog, I’m going over the most influential black people in fashion industry – men and women.  In the following, we’ll talk about significant icons that have shaped fashion throughout the years. Let’s check out these influential figures and later tell us who among them your favorite is.

1.Ann Lowe

She is one of the most known black women in fashion industry particularly in the design field. However, she’s rarely credited for all her work and sadly not given that appreciation a great icon like her deserves as she was born in the Jim Crow period.

The icon was only given the spotlight when she created four different ball gowns for Lizzie Kirkland O’Neal, who was then Alabama’s first lady.

When Lowe finished her design school studies, the one of the most influential black women in fashion industry built a salon and designed clothes for white women. She also had the opportunity to open a Madison avenue boutique, which was quite an achievement for a black fashion designer during her time.

One of her most significant accomplishments as one of the black women in fashion industry, however, was when she’s hired to design the wedding gown of Jacqueline Bouvier, the first lady of John F. Kennedy.

So, when talking about the most influential black people in fashion industry, her name should never be forgotten because of her part in history and for her perseverance despite any racial injustice she experienced in her life.

2.Beverly Johnson

One of the black women in fashion industry A well-known black supermodel that made it to Vogue Magazine’s cover in 1974, Beverly Johnson carved her name in the fashion industry and opened a lot of doors for women of color to enter the modeling scene.

She also helped pave the way for aspiring models who wanted not just to display their talent and skills in modeling but also to add diversity, especially in magazines and publications. But then, her popularity did not stop at VOGUE because she was also the first black model featured on ELLE France.

Johnson used her influence to spread racial imbalance awareness to help her fellow models in the fashion industry.

In fact, she spoke about how her VOGUE cover has barely helped in addressing racism and revealed that she even had lower compensation because of her color when compared to white models. She also said that she experienced reprimanding when she asked for black people professionals in photo shoots.

Nevertheless, Johnson is one of the most influential black women in fashion industry who added diversity in the field and she definitely deserves to be a part of this list.

3.Zelda Wynn Valdes

For the many of us who do not know one of the most memorable black women in fashion industry, Valdes, like the others on this list, has carved her name in the fashion scene when she designed the famous PLAYBOY Bunny costume, which since then has secured its spot in style for self-expression and seduction.

Her designs are known for flaunting off the curves in a woman’s body and making women look more seductive and sensual. Her works added diversity in fashion and style and are unique for their form fitting and low cut designs.

She’s one of the black women in fashion industry that successfully introduced fashion sensuality and seduction. Plus, if you’re into body positivity, you’ll sure love her craft!

Valdes is one of our favorite black people in fashion industry because she inspired us to be more comfortable and confident in our skin. Through her fashion, she also made us love ourselves more.

For this, we’re giving her lots of hugs! She’s a great black woman of fashion that has caught the attention of millions of fans as well as Editor-in-chief Hugh Hefner of Playboy Magazine. Her works are so impressive that she was also hired to create clothing for actresses and ballet companies.

Her legacy continues! Up to now, black women in fashion industry and the rest in the field follow her footsteps and keep offering their great contribution in fashion.

4.Tracy Reese

When talking about black women in fashion industry, she should not be left behind for reasons. The designer is admired for her unique fashion sense, incorporating and combining femininity with vintage and luxurious detailing.

But before she reached the peak of her business’ success, she had to face obstacles early in her career. While her works were loved by women of color, critics, and the general customers, her lack of business experience made her close her line just about three years after it was launched in 1986.

She bounced back and came back stronger, though! Her classmate and friend Marc Jacobs hired Reese to oversee Perry Ellis design portfolio, and she was mentored on how to establish a great line by Gordon Henderson. After years of hard work, it paid off and finally she’s able to launch a successful business in 1996.

5.Byron Lars

When it comes to black people in fashion industry, Lars was known as an achiever, well-loved icon in 90s fashion. In 1991, Women’s Wear Daily, a trade magazine, awarded him Rookie of the Year.

The darling fashion designer was admired for his talent and skills. His menswear-inspired fashion for women was highly demanded by Saks Fifth Avenue and Henri Bendel.

But perhaps his most significant contribution remembered by a lot of people in the fashion industry was his signature designs that included street wear and menswear inspired by aviation, baseball, and other sports. 

However, one that truly stood out was the body-fitting Oxford shirt dresses, which made him extra famous.  Until today, his works has continued to become an inspiration to new and aspiring designers, including black women in fashion industry.

6.Kimora Lee Simmons

Simmons started her career in the fashion industry as a model when she was 13 and since then had been famous for walking in the runway for big brands.  She became a Chanel muse and married Russell Simmons who owned Phat Farm, a menswear line.

She then founded Baby Phat, which offered a lot in the fashion industry, including short miniskirts and crop tops. The brand is also known for its logo that’s inspired by none other than Max her cat.

She strongly believes that what united the ladies of Baby Phat was their goal of looking good and feeling great at the same time without spending a lot of money.  Simmons was one of the most successful black women in fashion industry that operated a billion-dollar company. Her label with her daughters is back after a decade of closing.

7.Kai Milla

She’s the wife of Stevie Wonder, who was a famous soul singer during his time. She made her name as one of the most influential black women in fashion industry, especially in the contemporary design arena.

One of her biggest achievements was when Michelle Obama had worn one of her masterpiece dresses, which was a silk chiffon, gray in color sleeveless dress designed with pleating.

But apart from this achievement, she also carved her name in the fashion industry for her signature styles of wearable, fun, sophisticated clothing with bold and eye-catching colors and made of quality fabrics.  Through the years, her works have been positively reviewed by fans all over the world.

8.Maya Lake

Her work being one of the black women in fashion industry was vintage clothing that had paved the way for African prints she called Boxing Kitten. Lake started with her masterpieces in design when she’s only 10.

You’ll find her pieces taking you to memory lane, such nostalgic patterns to see on Mad Men secretary.  Her works were also recognized for their vibrant prints that sure made the wearer stand out among the rest.

9. Andre Walker

He had his first achievement when he was only 15 as he staged his first ever fashion show. The designer also worked for Willi Smith’s label “WilliWear.”

Walker was known for his works that included pant skirts, oven-mitt looking coat designs, and paper bag waist overalls. He also worked for Kim Jones as a creative consultant, Louis Vuitton, and Marc Jacobs.

There you have the most influential black men and black women in fashion industry that you should know!  Who among them have you heard before and which among their works do you love most?

Truly, these remarkable fashion icons have contributed to the fashion we know now and have continued to inspire aspiring black women in fashion industry with their talent and prowess in their craft.

Did you like this article? Share it on social media and let others know about these amazing black men and black women in fashion industry.

P.S. If you liked the best dresses and clothes for women of color, browse our wide range of collections here.

Author bio: Nikki is a fashion enthusiast and loves things about clothing, style, and fashion in general. She loves writing about the latest fashion trends and updates that everyone must know.

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