Combining their experience and knowledge as leading fashion creators, Kevan Hall, Angela Dean and TJ Walker have launched the Black Design Collective (BDC) to provide resources and opportunities to African Americans in the industry.
According to the three, Black designers have always been creative trendsetters, but often lacked other business skills to be successful. They hope to remedy that situation through mentorships, an e-commerce platform and financial workshops sponsored by BDC.
“We wanted to create more innovation to empower designers to move forward in building better business opportunities and also to be able to take a younger generation of designers with mentorships from us to give them more knowledge and experience,” explained Dean.
Offering more insight, Walker said, “We want to educate them on how to structure their business to sustain them instead of being something that’s here today and gone tomorrow.”
Hall plainly stated, “We want them to become competitors that are actually lucrative as other large corporations or fashion houses that have been in existence for hundreds of years. African Americans actually spend so much money in this area, but we need to spend it on each other in our community.”
The well-known designers, who have collectively produced several trend-setting collections, are supported in their efforts by Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter. The founders reached out to her long before she won an Academy Award earlier this year for her costumes in the “Black Panther” movie and Carter agreed to participate.
A renowned designer, Carter previously earned nominations for her work in “Malcolm X” (1993) and “Amistad” (1998) as well as an Emmy nomination for “Roots” (2016). Her creative costumes also appeared in “The Butler,” “Selma” and “Marshall” as well as in more than 10 films by director Spike Lee.
Carter’s longevity in her profession inspired BCD to recognize her career, according to Hall who said, “We’re the first to come forth and say we want to honor her body of work – more than 40 films – not just for “Black Panther,” but for her years of dedication to being a costume designer.”
The salute to Carter will be held on April 14, at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) in downtown Los Angeles. The event will include the inaugural presentation of a BDC scholarship to design student. In addition, attendees will be able to view Carter’s original costumes from “Black Panther,” which is part of the FIDM Museum’s “Art of Motion Picture Costume Design” exhibit.
BDC workshops, which will cover topics to aid designers in developing and marketing their products globally, are scheduled to be announced in the near future, said Dean, who also encouraged people to stay informed through BDC’s website and social media.
“The blog aspect of the website will be very vital to our audience because we’re going to give the history of Black fashion designers,” noted Dean. “Then, we’ll be able to take our current designers
that are ready and prepared to manufacture and we’ll give them opportunities where the public will be able to buy their goods and clothes.”
Follow the Black Design Collective online at blackdesigncollective.com, Instagram at @black_design_collective, Facebook @Black Design Collective and Twitter @Black Design Collective.