1. Tracy Reese
One of a small number of black fashion designer to show her collection at the 2015 New York Fashion Week, this powerhouse woman specializes in ready-to-wear clothing, accessories, and home fashions. She is also a board member of the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America, and frequently dresses none other than the First Lady of America, Michelle Obama.
2. Korto Momolu
This Liberian-born fashion designer first became known as the first runner-up of Project Runway Season 5 and has then moved on to greater fashion milestones. She has designed for Liberia’s female president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Miss Universe Leila Lopes. Since then, she has come out with her own brand, Korto Momolo and also designs fashion accessories such as jewelry and bags.
3. Laura Smalls
This fashion designer catapulted to fame in 2012 when First Lady Michelle Obama wore her dress at the Democratic National Convention. Since then, Laura is kept on the small list of designers the First lady wears. Other celebrities she constantly designs for are Zoe Saldana, Halle Berry, Angelina Jolie, Kerry Washington, and Marion Cotillard.
A Project Runway Season 11 fashion designer, she designs for her own clothing lines SamanthaBlack and SammyB and made a splash at the New York Fashion Week with her Spring 2014 Collection named Double Sided.
A Project Runway Season 9 finalist, Kimberly Goldson designs modern women’s wear “infused with cosmopolitan sensibility” and is known for using rich fabrics and creating clothing pieces that empower global women.
Haiti-born and NYC based, this talented designer is known for celebrating the sensual femininity in her designs. She debuted her first Fall/Winter collection in February 2012, which earned her praises and landing her on the cover of Women’s Wear Daily shortly after the New York Fashion Week.
These sisters of Nigerian descent came out with their brand, William Okpo in 2010, named after their father, who is their fashion inspiration when it comes to designing their pieces. The sisters presented their latest Fall/Winter 2014 collection at the New York Fashion Week, and is supported by their friend, Solange Knowles.
Canadian-based Nigerian designer, Dumebi Iyamah first showcased her line of resort wear and ready-to-wear, Andrea Iyamah, on her blog in 2011, which gained her acclaim from the fashion industry. She is now working on a couture line to cater to people who want more exclusive designs.
Olivier is a Parisian-born fashion designer and began his career designing for Roberto Cavalli in 2003. He became the creative director for Balmain in 2011 and has been said to have “breathed new life” to the brand. He’s known to be close friends with celebrities such as Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West.
10. Kahindo Mateene
Congo-born Kahindo Mateene launched her label, Modahnik in 2009, creating visually striking collections by fusing together trends and traditions of her heritage, resulting in a unique and bold aesthetic with hints of feminine sentiment. She is also a designer on Project Runway Season 12.
11. Stella Jean
An Italian-Haitian fashion designer who is relatively new to the fashion industry, yet is already considered as a rising star in Milan, Stella creates high fashion pieces through her own brand of eccentric, mix-and-match and bold prints that are flattering to any body type.
12. Carly Cushnie
The other half of the duo, Cushnie Et Ochs, Carly, together with her partner Michelle, debuted their graduation collection line from studying at Parsons School of Design to praise from the industry, earning them a cover story from Women’s Wear Daily.
13. Maxwell Osborne
Maxwell is the other half of streetwear clothing line, Public School. Together with business partner David-Yi Chow, this duo has been dominating the men’s streetwear market since they launched their line back in 2012. The famed duo has been grabbing awards left and right, with two recent CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) nominations for Menswear Designer of the Year Award and the Swarovski Award for Womenswear.
14. David Tlale
South African-based David Tlale is by no means new to the fashion scene, having been around for many years, earning accolades and awards not only in South Africa but on fashion capitals of the world as well. He celebrated his 10th year in the fashion industry in 2013 by showcasing his “Decadence” Fall 2013 Collection during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in March 2013. He is the acclaimed King of Fashion in South Africa.
15. Duro Olowu
A prime example of the saying “you can never be too late to change careers”, this British lawyer-turned-designer launched his first womenswear collection for Spring/Summer 2005 in October 2004, earning him the New Designer of the Year award during the British Fashion Week in London. Since then, he has launched a number of collections, and is also a part of the small list of designers First Lady Michelle Obama wears.
A New York based fashion designer, Kerby founded the menswear label Pyer Moss in 2013, gathering huge international support from press labels such as Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue, Style.com and GQ. His popularity cemented him the coveted Fashion Group International’s Rising Star Award in 2014. He is also known to design for celebrities like Usher.
17. Charles Harbison
Brooklyn-based Charles is the Creative Director and Founder of his label, Harbison, which he introduced in 2013. A luxury fashion brand, Harbison caters to women who embrace both their femininity and masculinity through modernly constructed and luxurious clothing pieces.
18. Sandro Romans
Jamaican-born and New York-based menswear fashion designer Sandro Romans was dubbed as one of the Top 10 Emerging Fashion Designer in 2013 by VIBE. Known as a style setter in menswear, Sandro is one of four designers chosen to present a collection during the iconic Harlem’s Fashion Row New York in 2013.