3 Black designers you should know
Laquan Smith began designing clothes in 2007 at the age of 19. He designed clothes for himself and found ways into fashion events to meet new faces and promote his brand. In doing so he formed friendships with women he would later design dresses for, and secured a mentorship with previous Vogue Editor-at-Large, Andre Leon Talley. Since the debut of his fashion line in 2010, Smith has continued to polish his brand with innovativeness and creativity for eight consecutive seasons. Through the use presentations, runway shows and motion editorials featured on his website and Instagram account, he gained the attention of celebrities such as Rihanna, Hailey Baldwin, Kim Kardashian-West, and Beyonce who would later be identified wearing Laquan Smith original pieces. Cemented in the fashion industry, Smith spilled his talent into menswear; having his designs worn by star rappers, Young Thug and Machine Gun Kelly. From Queens-based designer to becoming one of the few black designers featured on VogueRunway.com, Laquan Smith has become influential in showing the value of being tenacious and creating different avenues to transcend a fashion brand to a luxury fashion brand.
The Romeo Hunte brand rests on outerwear that finds the perfect synchrony between modernity and luxury. He approaches every design with optimum creativity and innovation. Romeo Hunte’s start in fashion began with his decline of a track and field scholarship in order to pursue his dream of becoming a fashion designer. Hunte went on to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology and upon completion, he entered different divisions of fashion. He worked full time as personal shopper, interned with luxury retailers, styled clients, and created custom designs. By January 2014, he launched his pre-fall collection which gained him recognition from top designer retail chains like Saks Fifth Avenue and Net-A-Porter. He also caught the creative eye of Chicago stylist, Law Roach. Law Roach hardly filtered through Hunte’s collection before he found the pieces he would style his clientele in. Soon enough, Roach’s celebrity client, Zendaya, was photographed at three press conferences wearing Hunte’s designs. Next, Beyonce fell in love with his genius after wearing a custom Romeo Hunte dress that gained attention from people around the world. With quick admiration, figures such as Keke Palmer, Hailey Baldwin, and Victor Cruz were seen wearing his brand. By 2016, he was mentioned by Essence magazine and mainstream fashion journal, WWD, as Designer to Watch. Through knowledge of the industry, Hunte was able to elevate his high profile brand and solidified a spot as a black designer featured on VogueRunway.com during New York Fashion Week 2018.
Created by Kerby Jean-Raymond, Pyer Moss is a clothing brand that expresses social awareness and fashion in tandem. Jean-Raymond got his start as a 14 year old fashion student who had a passion for designing sneakers. Upon his acceptance into the High School of Fashion Industries, Raymond landed a job designing womenswear under the direction of Kay Unger. Next, Raymond accepted a full scholarship to Hofstra University where he studied entrepreneurship and business law; and started a T-shirt line first called Mary’s Jungle and later called Montega’s Fury. Montega’s Fury completed one season with Urban Outfitters before Raymond decided to drop the line due to lack of resources. After college, Raymond started working a corporate job for AT&T which he disliked, and went to Brooklyn Law which he dropped out of. With fashion continuously stealing his attention, Raymond decided to liquidate his 401k and focus all of his energy, time and money into what the clothing brand would nationally be recognized as, Pyer Moss. Raymond proceeded by designing three camo-leather jackets in late 2012, one of which was sent to Rihanna. By the end of January, people were inquiring about Rihanna’s latest jacket and Raymond was preparing ten looks for his first pre-collection. Raymond’s first fashion show debut in January of 2014 secured the business of singer/ celebrity, Usher, who wore Pyer Moss to the 2014 Grammy, and on the hit television series, The Voice.
With a decent amount of confidence in his brand, Raymond decided to incorporate activism into his work. He pulled forth his personal experience with racial profiling and combined it with the number of injustices regarding police brutality and projected that into his work. Black Lives Matter and mental health awareness were at the forefront of his Fall 2016 collection which included shirts that advised people to seek help if they feel emotions that could potentially lead to depression or suicide. Also, his fashion show involved a model walking down the runway with a protest sign that stated “MY DEMONS WON TODAY.” Those are the words of Black Lives Matter activist, Marshawn McCarrel II, who committed suicide on February 8, 2016. Raymond’s vision gained him the attention of the Ku Klux Klan, who sent him random death threats in response to his 2016 fashion show. Raymond reciprocated by creating his Fall 2018 Ready-to Wear show in similar fashion. In place of music, models walked down the runway to songs about black empowerment sung by a gospel choir positioned at the helm of the runway. His Fall 2018 line encompassed a collection of oversized scarfs and bubble coats, loose fitting pants, western style shirts and jackets; and a collaboration with Reebok on basketball shorts, track suits, and low top shoes.