by John Russel Jones

I know that it’s partly because February is a few days short, but somehow this year Black History Month seemed to speed by extra fast. It seems like we were just starting, and here we are on the last day already! Although we’ve had several related stories here and there on the site over the last few weeks, we wanted to gather a few great stories together to really send off the month in style. Think of these as that late-night fireworks display that gives any holiday a proper send-off.

Fashion in Color

Call me old fashioned, but, yes, I have, over the years, amassed quite a collection of books about fashion (hey, my mom worked in a school library, what do you expect?), so I can’t wait to add these to my shelf: Harlem’s Fashion Row (HFR) has announced the upcoming launch of “Fashion in Color,” dedicated to Black fashion designers and the 50th anniversary of Hip Hop. It’s the first volume of three reference books highlighting the most remarkable Black fashion designers, past and present. From Aurora James, Kerby Jean Raymond and Charles Harbison to Miko Underwood, Tier NYC and Nicole Benefield, Fashion in Color celebrates the dynamic impact of Black designers on the world of fashion and music. French Designer, Olivier Rousteing, opens the book with a stirring foreword.

And don’t forget, to support designers of color year round, HFR launched online shopping directory HFR&CO for Black and LatinX designers. “Fashion in Color” aligns with that vision: Each page has a QR code that directs readers to the designer’s Instagram page. CEO and Founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row, Brandice Daniel, says “Fashion wouldn’t be what it is today without Black fashion designers, but they are very often overlooked. I compiled this book as a tribute to Black designers and to increase public awareness of their contribution and continuous impact on the fashion industry.” “Fashion in Color” will be available for pre-order on March 15th.

Paying It Forward

June79 designer Shawn Pean (recently interviewed here by our own Karen Alberg Grossman) says that he wanted to focus on panels and mentorship during Black History Month to help support those in need as well as provide guidance and inspiration. To that end, he was part of a mentorship program for five teenage designers from Detroit. Led by the Boys and Girls Club, Shawn mentored one young man, Trent Garson, and guided him creatively to better understand how to create a full collection. All five young men went on to showcase their collections during NYFW.

Off The Top of Our Heads

As Black History Month draws to a close and we enter Women’s History Month, what better timing than for this collaboration between Grammy award-winning, multiplatinum singer, songwriter, producer, and actor Anthony Hamilton and hand-crafted luxury millinery designer Frances Grey. The Frances Grey x Anthony Hamilton  legacy collection offers a variety of customizable signature hats of premium quality. Anthony and Debbie Lorenzo, the owner, and designer behind Frances Grey, will launch the collection at an exclusive pop-up shop at Nordstrom’s NYC Flagship Store on Saturday, March 4th. Following the pop-up, the collection will be available for custom order at FrancesGreyNY.com and AnthonyHamilton.com.

Reaching the Summit

Photo: McKayla Chandler, IG @kaystackss

To celebrate Black History Month, Neil Montgomery, Founder and CEO of Sovereignty Company Inc. and SO.TY had a fireside chat with Leah Thomas, an environmental advocate and Founder of Intersectional Environmentalist. The conversation focused on highlighting the negative social and environmental impact the fashion industry has on Black and other marginalized communities and the celebrated decades of activism, leadership, change initiatives led by movement builders like Leah Thomas and a legacy of black environmental justice leaders. There was a call to action for greater awareness, continued collaboration, collective change, and equitable environmental sustainability initiatives with the global and local fashion value chain. The two also applauded big changes at the federal level, including having Michael Regan as the first black male Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Justice 40 White House initiative. Leah and Neil believe there is hope for our future and it continues with this generation.

Black History Month is almost over…but let’s make sure we continue to celebrate the community’s contributions to our industry all year long! On March 25th, Sovereignty hosts Part III of its Sustainable Fashion Biz Summit in Los Angeles.  A four-part series, the summit convenes more than 75 industry leaders, changemakers, and BIPOC and conscious fashion entrepreneurs to help unlock new ideas and climate-neutral fashion solutions, inspire business innovations, amplify climate action, create lasting connections and new collaborations, and reimagine an equitable circular fashion society.

Top photo by Collis.