Black women fashion designers are constantly echoing the same sentiment: there’s still a need for more diversity in the industry and more resources for Black designers. Although New York Fashion Week (NYFW) has become more inclusive and diverse in recent years, this season’s roster of Black designers still only made up roughly 15 percent of the week’s calendar. Designer Tia Adeola, who has a self-titled clothing brand, says financial accessibility is one of the biggest barriers for many young designers.
“It’s so expensive. It’s so difficult,” Adeola told Unbothered about the economic struggles of entering the business.
Adeola, who is from Lagos, Nigeria, was raised in London before living in New York. The 26-year-old has taken the fashion industry by storm and worked alongside celebrities such as Serena Williams and Gigi Hadid. Adeola graduated from The New School with a B.A. in culture and media. She first launched her brand from her dorm room during the summer of 2017. She said that those integral years not only helped shape her career but her personal style as well.
“I still haven’t let go of any of my foundational styles that I started with,” Adeola said.
Last year marked her second NYFW show, which paid tribute to Thierry Mugler following his death.
Now, she’s adding a sophistication flare to her latest collection that still maintains her iconic signature sexy pieces. This time, she opted for an intimate dinner paired with a special screening instead of a traditional runway show to debut her 2024 collection.
Adeola, 26, encourages all young Black designers looking to break into fashion to keep going no matter the challenge. “My advice is just to wake up every day and keep going. And just have faith that you’ll end up where you dream to,” she said.
Anifa Mvuemba, founder of the beloved luxury fashion brand Hanifa, is another Black woman who has broken barriers in the industry. She has been previously recognized by the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, InStyle’s Future of Fashion Award and several others.
Now, as Mvuemba steps into motherhood after giving birth to her first child a few months ago, she’s also embracing all of the multifacetedness that comes with being both a parent and a successful entrepreneur.
“Everything that happens with Hanifa is in sync with everything that I’m going through or just my life,” Mvuemba told Unbothered. The new Hanifa Fall Winter ‘23 collection represents femininity in boldness with Mvuemba calling the textured bold and vibrant 14-piece collection a reflection of “every woman.”
“I’m a woman who moves at her own speed,” Mvuemba said about giving into societal pressures of what it means to be a working mother.
Her biggest piece of advice to other Black women designers is to “pay attention to the people that support you” –– while continuing to hone in on their community and build a personal connection with your clients as they build momentum in the industry.
“I think that’s why Hanifa has gotten to the place that it’s at — we have been so connected to our customer. We think about them at the beginning of the process.”
Mvuemba, who is based in Washington, D.C. and recently got engaged to her longtime partner, has plans to release an upcoming bridal collection –– an exciting new venture that she first hinted at back in 2020 following her viral moment.
But ultimately, Mvuemba says she hopes her daughter will be her greatest legacy, along with her efforts to uplift her community.
“I want my legacy to be that I supported other designers,” Mvuemba said.