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NYFW: Black in Fashion Council showroom designers shine

By Kristopher Fraser

15 Feb 2022

Fashion

Image: Black in Fashion Council
The Black in Fashion Council Showroom has returned for another season at New York Fashion Week to help give a platform to emerging Black designers. The showroom opened Saturday, February 12, and will be open through Wednesday, February 16, with a rotating set of designers each day to try and highlight as many new brands as possible. Some notable standouts have included accessory brand Ashya, and ready-to-wear brands Keama, Megan Renee, and Ndigo Studio.

Ashya, which launched in 2017, describes their brand as one of storytelling and cultural preservation. One of the brand’s biggest launches this season is their new bolo bag, which is adjustable and able to be worn as a backpack, crossbody, or clutch. Versatility is the mother of invention when it comes to their handbag line. When doing the designs, they think about all the different ways a bag can function, and rather than have four separate bags for one thing, they have.

Megan Smith of Megan Renee is a designer who holds the distinction of creating all her own patterns, ranging from waves to enlarged camouflage. Despite her very luxurious approach to patterns, she manages to keep her line very affordable.

“My pieces range from 120 dollars to 195 dollars,” Smith said to FashionUnited. “I wanted it to be very affordable and accessible. Right now, I’m on Newly, which is Anthropologie’s new subscription service. My goal this year is to get more retail placements.”

Keama, founded and designed by Keama Garrett, focuses on textiles sourced from all over the world from Senegal to Japan. As a child growing up, Garrett’s parents would take her traveling all over the world, so she was regularly in Africa. Now as a designer, she finds different inspirations from various African cultures. One of the signatures in her collection is mixing patterns.

“My uncle, who owns a shop on 125th Street in Harlem always told me you can tell when someone likes print, and his shop is known for their textiles,” Garrett said to FashionUnited. “I love a pattern on pattern moment, and I want people to be bolder in their style.”

Ndigo Studio, the brainchild of stylist and costume designer Waina Chancy and fashion designer Viviane Valerina, was launched during the pandemic but is already breaking ground in the fashion industry. One of their pieces was selected by costume designer Danny Santiago to be featured on the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That.

Chancy was a stylist for thirteen years and Valerina was a wedding dress designer. After years of working together, during the pandemic when they had loads of downtime, they decided to start Ndigo Studio together.

“The COVID-19 pandemic was a terrible event, but it allowed us to reset, sit back, and start doing something we’ve been wanting to do forever,” Chancy said to FashionUnited. “We decided to create a line that used a lot of colors to bring joy to people after all this tragedy.”

Although New York Fashion Week is missing some of its big headlining acts, this was an opportunity for independent designers to shine. For young, Black designers, spaces like the Black in Fashion Council showroom continue to be imperative to their brand growth and name recognition.

Image: Black in Fashion Council
Image: Black in Fashion Council
Black in Fashion Council
Megan Renee
Ndigo Studio