The sustainable and ethical fashion industry, like other aspects of the global fashion industry, has a history of uninviting and exclusive of women of color. But as a woman of color, I realize that the sisterhood I experience with other women of color is a unique type of camaraderie necessary for bringing more women like me into the space. Here are creatives who have revolutionized the fashion industry in innovative designs and paved the way for women of color.
Yes, you probably know RiRi, and she has two super brands – Fenty and Savage X Fenty. The latter has affordable and size-inclusive lingerie, while Fenty is super upscale. With the launch of Savage X Fenty, Rihanna became the first woman and the first woman of color to helm an original designer brand at LVMH.
Trace Reese may now be a well-known designer in the United States, but the humble beginnings of her career can be traced to a small Detroit room next to her lovely mother as they worked on their sewing machines. Reese founded Tracy Reese label in 1998, specializing in ready-to-wear and resort wear clothing.
Cushnie Et Ochs is arguably the most famous brand pioneered by women of color, rocketing to success since its inception in early 2008. Carly Cushnie is only half of the dynamic duo that created the Cushnie Et Ochs alongside Michelle Ochs. Both women met at Parsons School of Design and began working together to create sculpted, tailored, and cut-out pieces that are well-known for being sleek, modern, and sexy.
There are many women of color who used their talent and passion for fashion to carve out a position for themselves in the modern fashion industry. In addition to the icons mentioned previously, there are other women of color who own iconic fashion brands. These include Azede Jean-Pierre, Subrina Heyink, Kristen Gonzalez (one of the co-founders of Selva Negra), and more.