While the fashion industry still remains extremely uniform in appearance (namely…skinny white women and fierce gay white men), it has still come a long way and is gradually becoming more diverse. With more black faces on the runway, in the magazines and behind the scenes, we are slowly paving a way for ourselves and showing the industry what it’s been lacking.
Take a look at these ten women who are climbing to the top in the fashion industry through a variety of different channels and leaving lasting marks on this extremely competitive and always evolving industry.
10. Bethann Hardison
A widely known and respected pioneer in the industry, Hardison was one of the first black supermodels to work for big international brands such as Calvin Klein and Oscar de La Renta. She went on to guide the careers of future top models such as Naomi Campbell, Tyson Beckford and Iman. She has been recognized by the CFDA for her work in fighting to make the runways more diverse with models of all ethnicities.
9. June Ambrose
Stylist to the stars, Amrbrose has worked on the sets of some of the biggest music videos, photo shoots and movies. She went on to create her own handbag and shoe line and remains and top name in fashion trends to follow.
8. Claire Sulmers
The creative genius behind the super-blog and social media powerhouse, Fashion Bomb Daily. She is the go to person that hundreds of thousands of readers flock to in order to find out the designers behind their favorite celebrities’ looks. She also highlights everyday people with unique style, providing a platform for the next fashion mavens and maestros to be seen.
7. Rachel Johnson
She has worked her way up to creating her own fashion consulting company, Thomas Faison, that dresses some of the top athletes in the world, including LeBron James and Chris Paul. You can see her work courtside, at red carpet events and on the covers of GC and Complex Magazine.
6. Azede Jean-Pierre
Haitian born and Georgia raised fashion designer, Azede is a star on the rise, having already have her work worn by the first lady herself, Michelle Obama.
5. Tai Beauchamp
After snagging the coveted role of beauty director at Seventeen magazine at just 25 years of age (and becoming the first black woman to do so!), Tai has gone on to work at some huge beauty publications including O Magazine, VIBE and InStyle. Her beauty and fashion tips are highly regarded as go to information for many in the industry.
4. Joan Smalls
In her 26 years on this Earth, Joan has easily become one of the industry’s most recognizable faces. She is the first latina (she’s half black) to represent Estee Lauder and is #8 on Forbes’ list of “World’s Highest Paid Models.”
3. Chanel Iman
One of the youngest and most in demand fashion models today, her name is proof she was literally born for this industry. At just 23, she has worked with top brands including Versace and Tom Ford, has graced the covers of Vogue and Elle and has even walked the runway in one of the biggest shows of the year, the Victorias Secret Fashion Show.
2. Brandice Henderson
While many complain about the lack of diversity in fashion, Brandice decided to actually do something about it, creating a platform to help up and coming designers of color showcase their work. Harlem Fashion Row now hosts well-attended fashion shows during Fashion week and has gained the credibility to attract top buyers, allowing otherwise unknown designers to get their chance at success.
1. Umindi Francis
After working for branding agencies and super brands including Fendi, Emilop Pucci, MoMa and more, Umindi realized it was time to branch out on her own and created her own branding and marketing consulting firm, where she caters to many top fashion and entertainment clients. She is behind some of the best NYFW runway shows and has led some of the top marketing campaigns for many international luxury brands.