While the fashion industry is getting more and more diverse year by year, black fashion designers are still a minority.
However, the ones who’ve made it through continue to inspire and create opportunities for other designers of colour all around the world. The UK has already raised some widely known black fashion designers and GUESTLIST is listing you four of them:
Born in London to Ghanaian parents, Ozwald Boateng, opened his first design studio on Portobello Road in 1986 but his love for fashion started way before that.
Inspired by his mother, who was working in the fabric business, Boateng got himself a summer job sewing linings into suits at the age of 14.
The designer went on to study Computer Science at a London college when his girlfriend at the time showed him how to cut and design. Not long after that, he switched his major to fashion design at Southgate College and began working out of a studio in London's East End and selling his designs.
By the time he was 18, Boateng's clothes were selling at stores in the King's Road section of Chelsea and by the time he was twenty he had already dressed celebrities like Mick Jagger.
His first design studio on Portobello Road in 1986 was only the start of his journey to “changing the course of men’s fashion” and making a name for himself in the industry.
After opening his first boutique on Vigo Street at the end of Savile Row in 1995, and moving fully into Savile Row by 2002, his contemporary approach to menswear design managed to establish a new appreciation for Savile Row.
Alongside the many other awards that he has won through the years, Boateng has also won the award for 'Best Menswear Designer' at the British Fashion Awards in 2000.
Born and raised in London, Carly Cushnie has managed to make a name for herself by becoming the co-founder and designer of NYC-based label, 'Cushnie et Ochs'.
Even though her love for fashion bloomed in London, Carly moved all the way to New York to attend Parsons School of Design, where she received her degree in 'Fashion Design' and met her current business partner, Michelle Ochs.
While they were both attending Parsons, Carly and Michelle combined their talents and launched their line in 2008. Since then, their clothes have dressed some of the most influential women of the United States including Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.
In 2016, 'Cushnie et Ochs' celebrated a minority investment from Farol Asset Management, expanded their team, and opened their first brick and mortar location in collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Today, Cushnie et Ochs is available worldwide!
Duro Olowu might not have been born in the UK but his love for fashion was. The Nigerian-born designer was raised between Nigeria and England which helped him develop his love for designing.
Even though Duro showed signs for his passion for fashion from an early age and continued to work on that throughout his childhood when he got older he decided to follow his father’s footsteps and got a degree in law.
Fashion managed to win Olowu back and in 2004 he launched a women's label in London under his own name, starting with the S/S 2005 collection.
Since the launch of his brand Olowu has managed to impress all the “right” people including First Lady Michelle Obama, who frequently wears his designs, and in 2005 the "Duro" dress developed some kind of cult after being discovered and publicised by American Vogue editor Sally Singer and Julie Gilhart of Barneys, making ‘dress of the year’ by both British and American Vogue.
Today, he is best known for his innovative combinations of patterns and textiles that draw inspiration from his international background.
Since the start of his career, Casely-Hayford has made the lists of the top designers in London time after time, without a fail.
From the Tailor & Cutter Academy to Saint Martin’s School of Art, Joe started working on building his empire since the mid-80s.
Turning sixty soon, he began to work in fashion from the age of 21 and since then he has managed to make a name for himself with his men's and women's line, Casely-Hayford.
During his career, he has had his collections shown on the runways of Paris, Tokyo and London and more recently he took the role of Creative Director of Gieves & Hawkes and contributed to the re-positioning of the 200-year-old Savile Row House.
Other than working on his own brand, Hayford has also designed clothes for films, consulted for ballets, and dressed musicians like U2.
With a big international following and his son Charlie working next to him, the brand is now being sold in exclusive boutiques around the world.