Raised in Brooklyn, New York, Romeo Hunte grew up surrounded by women whose creative approach to fashion inspired him from an early age. He attended the Fashion Institute of Technology and later launched his own independent fashion brand in 2014. Hunte has worked as a personal shopper and has experience in editorial styling. In 2014, his first full collection was noticed by Net-A-Porter and Saks Fifth Avenue and eventually Barney’s and Bergdorf Goodman. In 2016, Hunte was mentioned as “Designer to Watch” by Essence Magazine, WWD and recognized by Teen Vogue. Hunte has also been fortunate to attend the 2015 & 2016 Met Gala. In 2017, Hunte was nominated as a finalist for Womenswear Fashion Group International Rising Star Award. Some of his celebrity clientele has included Zendaya, Beyoncé, Victor Cruz, Laverne Cox, Keke Palmer and Hailey Baldwin to name a few. Hunte strikes the perfect balance between creativity and practicality; which plays a huge role in each collection he designs.
Fashion designer, Tracy Reese was born on February 12, 1964, in Detroit, Michigan. She learned how to sew and make clothes from her mother. Reese graduated from Cass Technical High School in Detroit in 1980, and moved to New York City to enroll in an accelerated program at the Parsons School of Design, which she completed in 1984. After graduating from the Parsons School, Reese worked for French fashion designer, Martine Sitbon at the firm of Arlequin. She has worked with top fashion houses, eventually becoming head of the women’s portfolio for 1980s fashion icon, Perry Ellis. In 1996, Reese launched her own ready-to-wear label, Tracy Reese, which was noted for its femininity and retro-influenced styles. She also opened a storefront in New York City to exclusively sell her product line. In 2000, Reese expanded her brand with the creation of her mass market line, Tracy Reese Plenty, and her home furnishings line, Plenty, which she followed with dress-focused line, Frock! in 2006. That same year, she opened the flagship Tracy Reese store in New York City. In 2009, Reese launched her luxury line, Tracy Reese Black Label, and, two years later, opened the second Tracy Reese store in Tokyo, Japan. In 2012, First Lady Michelle Obama, a longtime fan of Reese’s designs, wore a dress custom-made by Reese during her speech at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. Reese has also designed clothing for singer, Beyoncé Knowles and actress, Sarah Jessica Parker. For Fall 2016, Reese created a short film called “A Detroit Love Song,” which she presented at Fashion Week off-runway. Also that year, Reese announced that her designs would be available in an expanded range of sizes, making them more inclusive of all women. She was inducted into the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 1990, and joined its committee in 2007, becoming its sole African American member. In 2007, she was appointed to the board of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Reese also served as the Turnaround Artist for the Barnum School in Bridgeport, Connecticut through the President’s Committee of the Humanities and Arts.
Kerby Jean-Raymond is a fashion designer and founder of Pyer Moss, a men’s and womenswear fashion label. Jean-Raymond describes the brand as an “art project” or “a timely social experiment” at times. Pyer Moss uses its voice and platform to challenge social narratives and evoke dialogue. His fashion shows combine storytelling, activism, debate, theatre and social commentary; all while using collaboration with artists and brands as a medium to further the dialogue around seasonal themes.
Darlene & Lizzy Okpo
Former employees of Opening Ceremony, Nigerian-American sisters, Darlene Okpo and Lizzy Okpo are the daughters of fashion designer, Willaim Okpo. Their talent and passion for fashion was already in full swing and took off in 2015. They opened their own boutique in the South Street Seaport, NY. Their two collections of pants and tops range in vibrant colors and denims and have been profiled in Vogue. This was years after their first collection was sold at Opening Ceremony, where it drew the attention of singer, Solange Knowles, with whom they designed a shoe for Adidas in 2014. They also have a fashion line, named after their father, who has greatly influenced their sense of fashion, which embraces wearing colors. The Okpo sisters have been featured on Forbes 30 under 30.
KAHINDO is a New York-based contemporary womenswear brand launched in 2009 by Kahindo Mateene. She created a line that fused two cultures of her upbringing (born in Uganda to Congolese parents, and raised in the United States). KAHINDO pairs mid-century American silhouettes with traditional Congolese textiles and fabrics. Mateene keeps her culture front-and-center in her lines making Congolese identity central to the brand. KAHINDO also works in partnership with MamAfrica—an organization that repurposes the brand’s fabric scraps into handbags made by women in the Democratic Republic of Congo. KAHINDO continues to garner recognition for her work: in 2011, she completed the Chicago Fashion Incubator at Macy’s Residency program, and she was also a contestant on season 12 of Lifetime Network’s Emmy-nominated show “Project Runway.”
Virgil Abloh is an American fashion designer, entrepreneur and DJ, who has been the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection since March 2018. Abloh also serves as the chief executive officer of the Milan-based label Off-White, a fashion house he founded in 2013. The fashion label is rooted in current culture at a taste-level particular to a young brand embracing the now in a sophisticated manner. He is also the founder and designer for his, label Pyrex Vision. He is a longtime creative consultant to Kanye West and garnered admirers out of many celebrities including Rihanna and Gigi Hadid to name a few.
Byron and Dexter Peart
Montreal natives, Byron and Dexter Peart are twin brothers and the co-founders of Want Les Essentiels, which is a high-end accessories label focused on making stylish and comfortable luggage and travel bags for frequent travelers. Founded in 2006 with a third partner Mark Wiltzer, the Peart brothers both have a background in men’s sportswear. They saw an area in fashion that needed more attention in streamlined travel accessories – bags, briefcases, and gadget cases and created a luxury brand.