Despite being an industry that often shocks and surprises many have struggled to accept the emergence of fierce new designers and models simply for the colour of their skin. However, many have paved their way into the fashion world as successful editors, writers, designers, stylists and executives. This week we look at the most influential black men in fashion, from models, to designers through to A-list celebrities.
Many of you may not have heard of Portuguese model Armando Cabral but you may recognise him from his various campaigns for J-Crew and H&M. In 2009, calling on his experience from working with high-end designers, he launched his own line of quality footwear; made in Italy the shoes combine luxury materials, rich leathers and tough canvas, to make everything from hi-top trainers to hardy looking boots. Up and coming, yet with a wealth of design experience, Cabral’s work can be found on designer stockist website mr.Porter.com.
Someone you may have heard of is the legendary Jeffrey Banks, a big name in the fashion world. After working in the high ranks of Ralph Lauren and Calvin Klein, Banks created his own brand in 1978 at the tender age of 25, bringing the masculine element of 1920’s and 30’s Hollywood glamour to his contemporary designs. From suits, to neckwear, to accessories; Banks had it covered. However, what qualifies him as such a great fashion designer was his furs that he designed for men. Another major designer, André Leon-Talley, once said that his furs were “so smart and tailored that some women want to wear them”. If that isn’t success then we don’t know what is.
Another name on the street that has bloggers feverishly typing away is that of upcoming model BB Kaye. Starting off a dancer, BB, which stands for Black Beauty, crossed over into the world of fashion after appearing on E4’s reality show ‘Dirty Sexy Things’, which followed eight hopeful models in their day-to-day lives. After signing to Storm modelling agency, BB has done campaigns for Roberto Cavalli and GQ as well as dancing for pop-stars such as Kylie, Mariah and Beyoncé. Where does he find the time?
Finally, it’s common nowadays for our favourite celebrities to delve into the exciting world of fashion creating their own ranges for popular names as well as their own brands. Pharrell Williams and Kanye West, two of the biggest names in music and holding influence over many, have already dabbled in fashion; Pharrell’s ‘Billionaire Boys Club’ and ‘Ice Cream’ lines are already stocked by Urban Outfitters. Kanye’s line of trainers ‘Nike Air Yeezy II Red Octobers’ were selling for £4,700 after selling out in shops in just 11 minutes! They are both trend-setters that many choose to admire and follow. For example, those over-sized t-shirts that Topman insist on selling, Kanye is to blame!
With the established designers and the up-and-coming talent we have in the fashion industry today along with influence from celebrities, it seems that black men in fashion are finally moving out of their minority status, and are in fact a reason to be reckoned with.