The Black in Fashion Council’s three designers to watch this NYFW
Executive board members Sandrine Charles and Lindsay Peoples Wagner select the names who are bringing both excitement and representation to the world of fashion this season
Monday 12 September 2022 By Alexis Kanter
Now in its second year, The Black in Fashion Council (BIFC) has made an impressive impact on the fashion industry, furthering its dedication to the advancement of Black designers and industry professionals alike. BIFC has garnered the support of major companies like Capri Holdings and Condé Nast, heritage brands such as Cartier and L'Oréal, and venture-backed mainstays, Everlane and Stitch Fix. These companies (among many others) have each pledged to make internal changes that will address racial imbalances on a systemic level.
At the helm of BIFC is Lindsay Peoples Wagner (editor of New York Magazine, The Cut) and Sandrine Charles (founder of her eponymous New York-based public relations firm). Their team has much to look forward to this September, including last week’s BIFC annual NYFW kick-off dinner, the upcoming IMG Discovery Showroom (a seasonal showcase of emerging Black-owned fashion brands), and Fellowship, an inaugural quarterly networking event in collaboration with Soho Works.
We pulled Peoples Wagner and Charles aside during this busy month to hear what’s next for BIFC and to get their take on which designers to look out for this season. ‘We are utilising different ways to continue support of Black designers in various spaces,’ explains Charles of the team’s intention to branch into different categories of the fashion industry with innovative collaboration methods. ‘The ever-evolving Discovery Showroom with IMG is now entering its fifth season with new designers that we look forward to getting in front of the right people,’ Charles adds.
Both Charles and Peoples Wagner are optimistic about emerging designers in New York. ‘I’m always excited to see what new brands and younger designers have to offer. There’s so much creativity that has come out of the past couple of years and it’s exciting to see such innovation come to life,’ explains Peoples Wagner. ‘Every season we’re both just looking forward to brands that have something to say and something new to bring to the table.’ In regards to the fashion trends we should embrace or let go, Peoples Wagner is diplomatic and honest. ‘Trends come and go, so I’m never harping too hard on them, but I’d say when people lean into a trend too much on the runway, off the runway and on the sidewalks, it’s really polarising and you get very tired of it quickly – like Barbiecore.’
Here are three emerging designers who, according to the BIFC team, each have a uniquely strong point of view. From the use of sustainable materials to expert tailoring and beyond, these brands are the ones to watch at NYFW this season.
(Top left, Charles Harbison. Right and bottom, images from the Resort 2023 collection)
Nostalgic memories of his small hometown in North Carolina combined with an admiration for his mother’s sartorial process inspired New York-based architect-turned-designer, Charles Harbison, to develop a deep love for fashion. He then followed his passion to create his own label, Harbison, which launched in 2013. Harbison spent time studying at Parsons School of Design and later worked at major brands such as Michael Kors, Billy Reid, Banana Republic and Cult Gaia, before announcing his first collection with menswear, womenswear and accessories. He explores themes of gender, modernity and sustainability, creating items that are crafted from organic fabrics using natural dyes. His use of colour is particularly exceptional and exemplified in pieces with fluid Grecian-esque draping that suits all figures.
At the age of 14, Peter Do immigrated to the United States from Biên Hòa, Vietnam. He gained traction after receiving the inaugural LVMH Graduate Prize while attending the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. Do later worked under Phoebe Philo at Celine before launching his own label in 2018. Now a fashion editor’s favourite, Peter Do began as a collaborative project between friends, with an approach rooted in his team’s mutual respect for one another and individual voices. A quick rise to CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year Nominee in 2021 solidified the brand’s staying power. It’s celebrated for its ultra-clean, masterly tailoring and commitment to sustainable textiles.
(Images from the SS22 collection)
Edvin Thompson is the Jamaican-American designer behind Brooklyn-based contemporary clothing brand, Theophilio. Thompson created the label to act as a conduit for storytelling and poetic expression for his community. At their core, his pieces are designed to honour the past trials and tribulations he faced as an immigrant. His intention for the wearer is to approach life’s new challenges with confidence while encouraging others to follow suit. With this, his garments are a celebration of the past and the present. They allude to a combination of themes surrounding cultural identity with influences taken from both his time as a young boy in Jamaica and his introduction to New York’s creative scene.