In 2021, the fashion industry has become more diverse than it has ever been. Although there is undoubtedly a lot more work to do, more Black creatives are finally getting the recognition they deserve for setting the trends we all know and love.
Even major retail brands are making it a point to pay its due and celebrate fashion stylists and designers, who often use their personal style and upbringing to provide fresh new looks.
Icons of Style is the latest project from Macy’s to help move fashion forward into a more diverse and inclusive platform. Launched today, the movement is described as an exclusive collaboration featuring fashion and accessories curated by visionaries Zerina Akers, Misa Hylton, Aminah Abdul Jillil, Allen Onyia, and Ouigi Theodore.
“We are thrilled to amplify the voices and exceptional talent of five Black creatives,” said Durand Guion, the VP of Macy’s Fashion Office. “We’re using this moment to tell their stories and provide our fashion-devoted customers with exclusive, one-of-a-kind pieces to help them express their personal style.”
Available only at Macys.com and select store locations, the shoppable capsule collections feature ready-to-wear fashions, trendy men’s clothing, and even shoes!
In preparation for the exciting launch, we had the privilege to chat with all those participating in the Icons of Style movement. With topics ranging from creating more diversity in the fashion industry to prepping the next generation for success, this conversation is inspiring us all to pull up a seat at the table.
BET: Why do you think it is important to support upcoming designers?
Zerina Akers (Celebrity Fashion Stylist): I think many of us get so caught up in convenience that we limit our exploration in trying independent designers and brands. For me, it’s important to focus on independently-owned brands, creators, and people who are fighting the good fight for creativity. It keeps the culture alive.
BET: How can we help our next generation of Black designers succeed in the fashion industry?
Misa Hylton (Fashion Architect): Having platforms for designers to showcase, like Zerina Akers’ Black-Owned Everything, is so important. It allows us to become knowledgeable and support each other. It’s a very grassroots way to help our next generation of Black designers.
BET: What words of encouragement can you give Black fashion designers?
Aminah Abdul Jillil (Famed Shoe Designer): Just do it. Don’t let anything stop you or hold you back. Never let anything prevent you from being yourself. Don't listen to the noise, stay positive, and go for everything 1000%.
BET: What advice do you have for future designers?
Allen Onyia (Style Coach): Stay consistent. I’m a firm believer that consistency wins because, through consistency, you will find and perfect your learnings. If you’re consistent with what you’re doing every day, you’ll be ready when your opportunity comes.
BET: How can we use lessons of the past to help upcoming designers flourish in fashion?
Ouigi Theodore (Menswear Pioneer): We’re constantly building on what happened to create what’s to come. Everything is inspired by something that came before it. I’d tell any young designer to look through the archives, do the research, and don't necessarily think of making money or making a name for yourself, but think of those who came before you. Think about the industry. We’re all contributing, highlighting, and magnifying our culture. It’s now our opportunity to create an industry with that.
** Editor’s Note: These quotes have been edited and condensed for clarity.