Over the years we have all heard about the fight for diversity in the fashion industry. Whether it’s speaking out against discriminatory casting practices or obtaining access to capital in order start a label, African-Americans are constantly struggling to get the same recognition and opportunity as their white counterparts. Despite the difficulties and hurdles, there have been a tremendous amount of noteworthy African-Americans that have made their mark in the industry and are paving the way for others. From the sketch pad to the runway, check out Part 2. of the Blacks in fashion you need to know in honor of Black History Month.
I’m sure Ty Hunter didn’t foresee that he would be the personal stylist to one of the biggest superstars of all time when he started working as a window dresser for a small boutique in Houston, Texas. As fate would allow, he caught the eye of Tina Lawson and aided in creating the unfortgettable looks of Destiny’s Child. He then went on to leave his fashion fingerprint on Beyoncé. Hunter is the fashion architect behind the metal glove worn in the iconic “Single Ladies” video, as well as her red carpet looks. Besides styling Mrs. Carter, he has a unisex clothing line called With Passion.
After launching his eponymous line in 2004, Duro Olowu and his highly sought after patchwork dress “Duro”, quickly became a favorite amongst fashion aficionados. Since then, the Nigerian designer has been one of the pioneers behind putting African print into mainstream fashion and even carried a line in JC Penney. Olowu is known for mixing bold prints and adding a vintage flare to his designs.
The luxury retail industry has never had a powerhouse quite like Felita Harris. The senior executive is responsible for the growth of the Donna Karan Collection, increasing sales across 38 countries from 17 million to 68 million. Harris has also worked with brands such as department store giants Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom.
Bethann Hardison may not be a name you recognize, but make no mistake this former model has definitely left her mark in the fashion world. First gaining popularity in the 70’s , Hardison was featured in top publications such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar, breaking down barriers for Black models. She then created her own agency, The Bethann Management Agency and has been an advocate for the inclusion of African-American models in the industry.
Olori Swank went from being a Biology, Pre-Med and Psychology graduate to being the stylist of Keyshia Cole in the blink of an eye. Having no prior experience with styling other than dressing herself, Olori has learned the ropes of the fashion industry on her own, becoming one of the top stylists in the game. Olori has worked with a number of our favorite celebs including Teyanna Taylor and Childish Gambino.
The epitome of timeless beauty, Iman and her slender frame became a muse amongst photographers and designers in the fashion industry, quickly catapulting her into supermodel status during the 70’s. Iman has graced numerous magazine covers such as Vogue and is now the CEO of Iman Cosmetics, a skincare, fragrance and cosmetic collection that caters to women of color.
One half of the successful designer duo Cushnie et Ochs, Carly Cushnie has brought a whole new level of bold femininity to the runway. Before Cushnie et Ochs, Cushnie interned with top designers such as Oscar De La Renta and Donna Karan where she mastered how to clothe the female body.The sophisticated designs of Cushnie et Ochs have been worn by Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez and Taraji P. Henson to name a few.
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