That doesn't mean the work is easy. I recently founded my own business, The Folklore, an online retail concept store that stocks brands exclusively from Africa and the African diaspora. Already I’ve had to defend the earning potential of African designers to prospective non-African venture capitalists and investors, who were convinced that they wouldn’t sell well among non-African audiences. (Most of the pieces on my site have sold out.) I’ve argued against long-standing stereotypes that paint Africa’s business climate broadly as corrupt. I’ve invested my own money to launch the company, trusting that my vision will translate.

“It's important for designers to work for a bigger purpose, because fashion is so small. If you remove the social aspect of it and if you remove the day-to-day lifestyle of it, then we're just left with a pair of pretty shoes—and who cares? That's so disposable. You have to tell a story...you have to really touch people beyond yourself. It's bigger than you, it's bigger than us.”


The wedding took place Historic Mankin Mansion in Richmond Virginia, and was peppered with plenty of red carpet glam. — Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Bridal Bliss: Kornelius and Rachel Came Ready Carpet Ready To Their Elegant Ceremony," 21 Aug. 2019 Brass console tables, an upholstered velvet bench in green, and a lacquered ceiling for a dose of glam complete the look. — Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "A Sophisticated Tribeca Home with an Inspiring Mix of Modern and Traditional Accents," 12 Aug. 2019 The one survivor is Tilda Swinton as a Scottish samurai and mortician with the only funny routine, turning corpses into glam-rock mannequins. — Armond White, National Review, "The Dead Don’t Die: Climate-Change Comedy for the Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez Era," 14 June 2019 As for glam, the Revlon ambassador reaps the benefits of having access to some of the best from the line. — refinery29.com, "Ciara Just Revealed Her Top Beauty Buys — & Everything's Under $15," 20 Mar. 2018 The packaging, a play on vintage glam, shows a chef/domestic goddess in heels. — BostonGlobe.com, "Rebel Green Deluxe Dish Soap stands out - The Boston Globe," 10 Sep. 2019 This is heightened even more so when they’re hit with the glam of my occupation as an entertainment/lifestyle reporter. — Essence, "I Tried To Have A Hot Girl Summer And The Dating Scene Left Me Frostbit Instead," 30 Aug. 2019 The glam shot features most of the main cast, including Donald Glover and Beyoncé, who star in the movie as Simba and Nala, respectively. — Helen Murphy, PEOPLE.com, "Family Affair: Zooey and Emily Deschanel Hit Dad Caleb’s Red Carpet Premiere for The Lion King," 10 July 2019 Selena kept the glam going with her choice of accessories and coordinating beauty routine. — Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Selena Gomez Wore a Black Celine Gown to the Premiere of “The Dead Don’t Die”," 11 June 2019
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“I think that every single designer needs to really be aware of how many of the things that they’re making already exist in landfills. We have a responsibility to only bring things to life that are going to live extremely long lives. For example: A lot of people are like, 'Oh, it's vegan leather'—well, vegan leather is plastic, and plastic breaks. It's not good for clothes, there's no longevity. I want to always challenge my fellow designers, creative people, and really people of all industries to say: If you're going to be manufacturing these things, how can these things be leaving a positive impact? Not just a neutral impact or a negative impact—a positive impact.”

“When things shifted politically a few years ago in the U.S., it was important to me to I speak out, because I could see that a lot of marginalized communities were going to be really affected, including several of the communities I’m a part of. I felt that, as someone with a platform—albeit a small one—it was still my responsibility. Still, on a weekly basis, we upset people.”
“I'm inspired by anything black. Black artists, musicians, activism. James Baldwin, Angela Davis, David Hilliard, Nina Simone—they inspired a project I just did, where each one inspired a look, but you wouldn't know from looking at it. I'm not trying to be so straightforward. If that were the case, I would just take my research and put it on a graphic T-shirt. The thing that informs all of my work is the black experience. That's just how my brain works, I can't help it. It's exciting to know that some people get the reference, no matter how secretive or subtle it may be.”
The wedding took place Historic Mankin Mansion in Richmond Virginia, and was peppered with plenty of red carpet glam. — Jasmine Grant, Essence, "Bridal Bliss: Kornelius and Rachel Came Ready Carpet Ready To Their Elegant Ceremony," 21 Aug. 2019 Brass console tables, an upholstered velvet bench in green, and a lacquered ceiling for a dose of glam complete the look. — Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "A Sophisticated Tribeca Home with an Inspiring Mix of Modern and Traditional Accents," 12 Aug. 2019 The one survivor is Tilda Swinton as a Scottish samurai and mortician with the only funny routine, turning corpses into glam-rock mannequins. — Armond White, National Review, "The Dead Don’t Die: Climate-Change Comedy for the Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez Era," 14 June 2019 As for glam, the Revlon ambassador reaps the benefits of having access to some of the best from the line. — refinery29.com, "Ciara Just Revealed Her Top Beauty Buys — & Everything's Under $15," 20 Mar. 2018 The packaging, a play on vintage glam, shows a chef/domestic goddess in heels. — BostonGlobe.com, "Rebel Green Deluxe Dish Soap stands out - The Boston Globe," 10 Sep. 2019 This is heightened even more so when they’re hit with the glam of my occupation as an entertainment/lifestyle reporter. — Essence, "I Tried To Have A Hot Girl Summer And The Dating Scene Left Me Frostbit Instead," 30 Aug. 2019 The glam shot features most of the main cast, including Donald Glover and Beyoncé, who star in the movie as Simba and Nala, respectively. — Helen Murphy, PEOPLE.com, "Family Affair: Zooey and Emily Deschanel Hit Dad Caleb’s Red Carpet Premiere for The Lion King," 10 July 2019 Selena kept the glam going with her choice of accessories and coordinating beauty routine. — Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Selena Gomez Wore a Black Celine Gown to the Premiere of “The Dead Don’t Die”," 11 June 2019
“It's important for designers to work for a bigger purpose, because fashion is so small. If you remove the social aspect of it and if you remove the day-to-day lifestyle of it, then we're just left with a pair of pretty shoes—and who cares? That's so disposable. You have to tell a story...you have to really touch people beyond yourself. It's bigger than you, it's bigger than us.”
Fashion still has a lot of work to do when it comes to diversifying its talent pool. In February 2015 only 2.7 percent of the designers on the New York Fashion Week calendar were black, according to The New York Times; by February 2018 that statistic was still under 10 percent, per The Cut. And there have been regular reminders why this is critical: Designer products resembling blackface or nooses have sparked calls for boycotts and increased demands that companies take steps to diversify and educate their employees and provide new opportunities for people of color. Amid the headlines and outcry, black fashion designers keep doing the work: creating and advocating for more inclusive fashion through their products and every single facet of their business.
It seems like every week a fashion brand is rallying behind a political candidate, collaborating with a nonprofit, or announcing a new sustainability initiative—in other words, companies are trying to prove they are more “conscious.” Being “conscious” has become a talking point. Credit the current political climate or the idea that customers want to shop their values, but more and more designers are being vocal about where they stand on certain issues, and companies are increasingly transparent about their business or manufacturing practices.
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