Following successful past seasons, the Black in Fashion Council returned to New York Fashion Week on Feb. 12 with a new slate of up-and-coming Black designers. Since its debut in 2020, the showcase has served as a platform for Black creatives, pushing for more Black representation in fashion. Saturday’s showcase featured ASHYA, Keäma, Megan Renee and Ndigo Studio, mixing a number of pieces from their Fall/Winter 2022 collections with signature pieces from past years placed on hangers and mannequins for the audience to walk through.
ASHYA, an accessories label created by design duo Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece, kicked off the showcase. Since 2017, Cimone and Annece have relied on their connections to Caribbean, African American and West African culture to shape their brand and develop more sustainable ways of tanning leather. The brand re-emphasized the importance of heritage in their intricate embroidery this season.
One of their pieces, the “Slingback Mini Bag,” can be worn across the back, on the shoulder, or in front of one’s chest — versatile in both wear and occasion. Simple tan and black tones make the bag easy to style with colors or nudes. The “Heritage Checker Bolo Bag” is compact, but its small size does not detract from its usefulness as an everyday bag.
“As a small brand, being able to have the ability to make those decisions is great,” product development and production manager Mahin Khan said. “We can change what leather we’re using. We can try and find more ways to make more sustainable bags.”
Megan Renee is a contemporary design label that plays with femininity and masculinity. The sustainable Los Angeles-based brand is the creation of designer Megan Smith, who placed fourth in season one of Amazon’s “Making the Cut.” The collection reinforced the brand’s bold colors and prints. Cutouts and large, puffy sleeves were new additions to the collection and elevated each design. Smith told WSN that she believes that beauty is at the center of everything and envisions her designs to reflect how the average woman wants to feel.
To say that it was this fashion week which put Keäma on the rise would be incorrect: the brand has previously garnered attention from many celebrities, and was featured in Beyonce’s film “Black is King.” Founder Keäma Garrett lit up the showcase with handcrafted, multi-layered tulle dresses — the brand’s signature style and its most eye-catching design. Aside from these extravagant designs, Keäma also exhibited day-to-day wear, featuring a plain white pantsuit bedazzled with large jewels —the stand-out design.
“When I make a collection, I think about the woman throughout the whole entire time,” Keäma told WSN. “This is my woman going to work. This is my woman going to sleep. I want you to understand where you fit in. Maybe you’ll fit in with these two. You might fit in with these three outfits, but you want to fit someplace you feel comfortable.”
Based in Miami, Ndigo Studios closed off the showcase with its multi-pleated designs. Stylist and costume designer Waïna Chancy and fashion designer Viviane Valerius are both Haitian, and their collection represents the vibrance of the Caribbean. The brand is very playful with its use of pleats, colors and cuts. Many of the dresses were structured with wire-like materials, but their soft surfaces made it seem as if wearing them would not feel heavy in the slightest. Each piece had an eternal summertime feel to it, but can easily be worn in winters too. Ndigo Studios is only a year old, but its NYFW debut — in addition to being featured on HBO Max’s “And Just Like That — proves that its sudden success will continue.
• • •
The Black in Fashion Council showcase shows how Black designers continue to be at the forefront of new trends in the industry, with each brand bringing something new to the world of NYFW. The showcase will continue throughout the week, with other brands such as Dur Doux, Lavie by CK, CISE, Eugene Taylor, and Salone Monet to come.
Contact Bianca Brutus at [email protected]