From hot takes on the buzziest fashion shows and the latest happenings in the industry to Outfit of the Day pictures, Antoine Gregory’s Twitter account @bibbygregory has always served as a window into his mind. And at its forefront? Black designers—always.
As one of the few Black students in his design class at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, Gregory has long been keenly aware of the need for more Black faces in fashion. In 2016, he created a Twitter thread titled “Black Designers You Should Know” listing the names and websites of veteran and budding Black designers, including Carly Cushnie, James Phlemuns, LaQuan Smith, Hanifa, Kerby Jean-Raymond and more. Little did he know the thread would become the cornerstone of the platform he’d launch four years later.
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Black Fashion Fair arrived this week, not a moment too soon. At a time when the heaviness of the current climate and social unrest has propelled Black designers to the forefront of fashion’s consciousness, Black Fashion Fair presents not only a mission but a plan of action to keep Black talent at the center of the conversation. The platform is “a conceptual trade, educational, and cultural experience aimed toward the discovery and furtherance of Black designers,” the site reads. The crème de la crème of BFF is its A-Z directory that organizes creatives by their real name instead of the brand.
“It is also a tool to reach the designer brands through commerce. Buying Black is easy, but we need support and community around Black designers that help sustain their businesses long-term. I want to see Black designers become heritage brands,” he told Essence.
One way Gregory hopes to keep designers in conversations is through BFF’s Fashion Stories, an ongoing series highlighting Black designers and the narratives behind their brands. “As Black Fashion Fair continues to advocate for greater access and visibility, these stories will document and preserve Black fashion and style as designers continue to gain equity in an industry that has not mirrored them. These stories are about more than fashion. These stories are a historical and cultural reference. They are the representation of a people who are often forgotten and whose contributions have largely been ignored,” BFF wrote on the site. In tandem with BFF’s debut, the platform released its inaugural Fashion Story spotlighting Pyer Moss, shot by Ahmad Barber and Donté Maurice of AB+DM.
Today, BFF launches another sector of its multi-pronged plan, a digital trade show showcasing pieces from 21 designers, from Fe Noel to Tia Adeola to Phlemuns. Each brand participating in the fair is asked to commit 15 percent of proceeds to resources that support the next generation of designers.
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