2022 was a groundbreaking year for African and Black designers at Fashion Week, as they made their mark on the global stage with their unique and innovative designs. These designers, including Chelsey Grays, Dur Doux, House of Aama, KHIRY, Oak & Acorn, TIER, and Who Decides War, drew inspiration from their cultural heritage, sociopolitical issues, and sustainable practices to showcase the diversity and richness of African fashion.
Chelsea Grays describes herself as a political designer and communicates social issues with her garments. She is someone who strives for change within the sociopolitical atmosphere, and desires to creatively spread awareness through her designs. “Organized Chaos,” a previous collection from the designer, consisted of garments that were inspired by the homeless on San Francisco’s streets, as well as Basquiat’s artwork. Other past collections of the designer contained garments such as flared and paneled pants, turtlenecks and assorted knitwear.
Behind Dur Doux is mother and daughter duo Cynthia and Najla Burt. The pride themselves on their ability to create luxury pieces that are actually affordable. They draw inspiration from different cultures around the globe. They state that they design fun, voluminous dresses made from candy-colored tulle. The creative director of the brand also ensures that each design incorporates an element of avant-garde while still retaining its wearability.
House of Aama
This Los Angeles-based brand dedicated to sartorial storytelling. Inspired by the Black experience, the brand utilizes a very nostalgic approach to design. Their clothing is infused with neutral, muted tones and an aesthetic reminiscent of the ’70s. Some of the label’s signature garments include effortlessly styled wrap skirts, military pants, halter tops and silk blouses.
The luxury jewelry label KHIRY makes Afrofuturist statement pieces in bold, chunky and shapely silhouettes. Inspired by the African diaspora, the brand’s earrings, bracelets and necklaces are designed with respect to Black cultures, and with a modern, decadent twist.
Oak & Acorn
This is one of the first sustainable denim brands from Harlem. Their clothing which includes denim overalls, harlem pants, quilted bomber jackets, vests, branded hoodies are made up of natural artisan fabrics, recycled textiles and deadstock materials, the brand tries to pay tribute to enslaved Africans who contributed to the manufacturing of denim in the United States.
Tier is a Black-owned clothing brand that’s deeply rooted in visual storytelling. They are known for their bold graphics and conceptual projects. The brand’s founders, Nigeria Ealey, Victor James and Esaiii2e Jean Simon — three close friends who grew up in Brooklyn — come from creative backgrounds and contribute to the brand in a multitude of ways.
Characterized by its beautiful, artful imagery, TIER’s most recent campaign channels an island-oriented vibe.
Who Decides War
Who Decides War is a denim brand and have presented their collections at New York as well as Paris Fashion Week. The brand aims to raise awareness on current events and the conflicts going on in the world. Their collections feature deconstructed denim jackets and jeans with eye-catching text, patchwork, embroidery and distressed detailing. An abundance of color dominates each collection as well.