Throughout the years, the fashion industry has become more and more open to different narratives and inclusion. As a result, fresh new takes and BIPOC fashion designers have risen from their niche community and joined the world stage. Amongst them are a few who genuinely stand out and have won over the hearts of fashion enthusiasts and consumers alike. On this occasion, we will take a look at a range of exceptional designers who concern themselves with identity as much as challenging gender norms and breaking the cycles around sexual orientation.
For the fact alone that London based Jamaican rooted fashion designer Grace Wales Bonner prevails in menswear is a bold statement on its own. For centuries, men have designed womens clothing however, a small number of female designers have dared to prioritise mens fashion due to societal expectations. Not only does Grace beat the odds, but she’s also quite good at it, recognized worldwide for her elegant yet distinctive approach and richness in storytelling. Her versatile designs are worn all across the world by both women and men, unafraid to embrace their native past with a glimpse of the future where all people can comfortably wear clothes initially made for the opposite sex and vice versa.
A British fashion designer proudly known for vocalising unisex clothing, a term that was adapted to suggest an object of use for both genders, Martine Rose is the epitome of stirring the pot at a time when it is much needed. Ever since her entrance in the fashion industry, Martine has never been the type to stay quiet, always testing the waters and our understanding of clothes, shoes and accessories. She explained on many occasions that she sees it as fun to blur the lines between genders through her vibrant clothes, almost like an optimistic scientist experimenting around in a laboratory. Correspondingly, this joie de vivre and youthful approach reflects well in her design, giving enough room for interpretation and to anyone who dares to proudly wear her creations.
American fashion designer Telfar Clemens can be easily described as the champion of queer representation in the entire fashion industry at this moment. As a queer individual himself, Telfar shines a light on queerness by making sure to include queer models in all of his collections. Whether it is the face, the campaign or a revealing cut, Telfar does not shy away from sexual liberation being personified through clothing. Not to say that Telfar is trying to start a conversation here; those are his people and he feels most comfortable with including his friends into various exciting campaigns. One could assume that this is a direct result of queer voices being given a space to express themselves and partake in the fashion world, something Telfar has fought for decades.
Nigerian born fashion designer Mowalola Ogunlesi is our most recent superstar on these fashion streets, absolutely killing it in every aspect. One could say that Mowalola has taken from the greats before her and managed to blend the youthful approach of a Martine Rose and the deeply comminuted language by Telfar. You mix these two together and there comes Mowalola with her own reminiscent yet refreshing designs/cult. If you think you’ve seen it all, then trust me when I tell you that the lines have never been more blurry, and although everything feels in alignment with Mowalola’s universe, her clothes can be interpreted as an addition into this never-ending battle for individual expression and inclusion for all groups of people regardless of race, gender or sexual orientation. The future's looking bright for Mowalola and so do her unique designs.