Black Design Collective Recognizes Underrepresented Creatives With Year of Firsts

Throughout 2019, the Black Design Collective maintained its commitment to highlighting the accomplishments of black fashion creatives by hosting a number of events and building a community within the fashion industry. As the brainchild of veteran designers Angela Dean of DeanZign; Kevan Hall, known for his high-end eponymous label; and Thomas “TJ” Walker, co-founder of Cross Colours, the BDC was founded in October 2018 but debuted a number of inaugural events during this year including an awards gala, speaking engagements and a designer pop-up shopping experience.

“When you think about black designers, a lot of people don’t have a reference for them—they don’t know some of the great designers that changed fashion, and they don’t know a lot of the current designers,” Hall, the organization’s vice president, told California Apparel News in April. “You can work for a company freelance for 15 years and not get a post as a designer. That is ludicrous.”

During its inaugural scholarship celebration, held in April at the downtown Los Angeles campus of the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising’s FIDM Museum, the BDC celebrated the work of Ruth E. Carter. The Academy Award­–winning costume designer has enjoyed a career of more than 30 years and, in 2019, became the first African-American artist to win an Oscar in the best costume-design category for her work on the film “Black Panther.”

Attended by Hollywood heavyweights, fashion-industry veterans and political players, the event’s guestlist included notable names such as Loretta Devine, Rep. Maxine Waters, Gabrielle Union, Beverly Johnson and Tina Knowles-Lawson.

Speaking at the gala, Union, who worked with Carter on the television series “Being Mary Jane,” saw the Black Design Collective as an opportunity for the support that diversity is supposed to afford.

“What it should mean is to not use the buzzwords ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ but put your money where your mouth is and actually support, put on, amplify and center designers of color and black designers specifically,” she said during the event.

Though the night was held in honor of Carter, the organization also recognized the next generation of designers, awarding FIDM student Devert Monet Hickman with the Black Design Collective’s $10,000 scholarship.

“Getting this Black Design Collective scholarship will allow me to bring that out of my soul and show you what I have,” he said, addressing the crowd. “I really want to pass the torch just like she did. I am sure there are other black designers out there in the backwoods of Kentucky where I am from that want to be just like me and look up to me. I want to carry that torch and show them that they, too, can be right here in front of FIDM, where it all started.”