Change is coming. In continued efforts to create a truly diverse fashion industry, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has teamed up with former model Bethann Hardison to give financial support to Black designers and Black-owned brands. The Designers Hub grant is not only the product of a partnership between Hardison and the CFDA but Vogue’s and the CFDA’s “A Common Thread” fund and Tom Ford International as well.
It’s exciting to see large fashion institutions finally putting their money where their mouth is– with the help of Hardison of course! Along with providing about $15,000 to each winner, the grant aims to share expert guidance and opportunities for growth to fashion businesses hard hit during the global pandemic. Because of this generosity, each of these recipients who have been struggling will get a chance to share their innovative work with the world.
1. Aisha McShaw
Former banker-turned stylist, now designer, Aisha McShaw has spent enough time around clothing to understand the importance of quality construction and fit. Her namesake brand creates made-to-order luxury womenswear in New York City. “Influenced by old Hollywood glamour, she wanted to create timeless pieces for herself that she did not see on the market,” the website explains. With elegance and comfort in mind, McShaw designs garments with enough sophistication for high-end clients while still leaving room for fun.
2. Akua Shabaka + Rebecca Henry of House of Aama
Based in Los Angeles, House of Aama is “the spiritual expression of mother and daughter design duo, Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka in material form.” The pair founded the brand in 2015 and have been creating magic together ever since. House of Aama utilizes thoughtful research to design garments which share, comment on and invoke conversation around the history of the Black experience. With a deep reverence for the past and an eye towards the future, Henry and Shabaka produce pieces built to last.
3. Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece of ASHYA
ASHYA is unisex travel accessories label handcrafted in New York. Design team Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece established the brand in 2017 with the aim to provide pieces which marry “luxury and utilitarian principles.” ASHYA’s passion for exploration has led them to dabble in upcycling, custom made elements and versatile design. Along with their goal of diversifying perspectives, the duo is committed to ensuring the fair treatment of those who work for them and creating for the future of our planet at the same time.
4. Azède Jean-Pierre of AZÈDE
Azède Jean-Pierre has received plenty of buzz for her designs. Since launching her brand in 2012, the designer has dressed the likes of Michelle Obama and Solange, making it only a matter of time before the Haitian-American design received proper recognition. Informed by her Haitian heritage, Jean-Pierre creates feminie garments infused with seemingly effortless strength. Her inspiration comes from confident, independent women which would certainly describe the well-known names above. In addition to her brand, Jean-Pierre is a philanthropist with a specific focus on her home country of Haiti.
From Project Runway to the CFDA, Jamall Osterholm has turned heads with his otherworldly designs. The 25 year old only graduated from RISD a handful of years ago but has already made a name for himself. Osterholm’s work takes the history of the black male body as seen through Western and African cultures, and sets in the context of the possible future. His work aims to break down stereotypes often put on black men within predominantly-white spaces and envisions a coming liberation from them.
6. Kristin and Kofi Essel of Third Crown
Third Crown is a New York-based brand masterminded by wife-and-husband Kristen and Kofi Essel. After graduating from Florida State University for Apparel Design, Kristen discovered her talent as a jewelry designer through various internships with brands such as David Yurman, while Kofi focused on using his Menswear design degree from FIT. Eventually, the two decided to combine strengths and create “gender neutral everyday statement pieces.” Third Crown is the product of love, passion and timeless design honed by the duo.
7. Miko Underwood of Oak & Acorn
Miko Underwood isn’t just a designer but a denim expert, entrepreneur and creative director. After spending years in the industry developing denim in almost every market, Underwood decided to cultivate something of her own. Oak & Acorn ~ Only for the Rebelles is a sustainable denim line designed and produced in Harlem, New York– the first of its kind.
Through it’s thoughtful construction, the brand seeks to hold space for the untold history “of the Indigenous American & the enslaved African’s contributions that have shaped American manufacturing & American Denim.”
8. Sade Mims of EDAS
Craftsmanship, sustainability, eclecticism– three words that encapsulate the spirit of EDAS. New York City-based designer Sade Mims set out to innovate home goods with the planet in mind. The brand has evolved over the years, never forgetting the environment or the importance of quality, but just in a different form. Today, EDAS sells elegant accessories from delicate earrings to statement hats. In addition to her label, Mims uses her creative eye to creative direct, produce, curate and write. A woman of many talents indeed.
9. Salone Monet
Salone Monet had an unusual path to fashion, coming from political PR and a degree from American University. However, after falling in love with shoes, she decided to learn the art of shoemaking herself. Monet’s namesake brand produces color inclusive nude shoes, filling a void in the industry sorely overlooked until now. Each pair is 100% hand dyed to order, avoiding waste and taking advantage of local artisanal talent. No one Salone Monet pair is the same, just like the people who wear them.
10. Shanel Campbell of Bed On Water
Shanel Campbell graduated from Parsons in 2016 and launched her own line only a couple of years later. The 28-year old multidisciplinary creative designs clothing with a heavy emphasis on sculptural forms. Unusual details and expert tailoring ground each fantastical piece in fashion reality. Her work is inspired by her life experiences as well as the history and culture of black America. Although Solange, Issa Rae and Trace Ellis Ross have all donned her designs, giving her a public boost, her best is surely yet to come.