There is no group of people more fashionable or stylish than Black folks. Not only are we on the cutting edge when it comes to the fashion industry—we are the fashion. From designing avant-garde wardrobe staples to spearheading campaigns for some of the most luxurious brands to dressing the biggest celebrities, we’re doing more than pulling up a seat at the table: we are building our own. The 10 TGU Fashion honorees are true visionaries in their own right and deserve recognition for the ways their creativity has shaped not just our communities but the world. From designing avant-garde wardrobe staples to spearheading campaigns for some of the most luxurious brands to dressing the biggest celebrities, we’re doing more than pulling up a seat at the table: we are building our own. The 10 TGU Fashion honorees are true visionaries in their own right and deserve recognition for the ways their creativity has shaped not just our communities but the world.
The late Virgil Abloh interned at Fendi in 2009 alongside Kanye West. Two years later, he served as the creator director of West’s joint album with Jay-Z, Watch The Throne. In 2013, Abloh founded his first high-end streetwear fashion house called Off-White. Its success led the designer to work with brands like Nike and IKEA. He was named the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line, which made him the first Black person to hold this position at the French luxury fashion house. For Abloh’s collection debut during 2018 Men’s Fashion Week in Paris, artists like Kid Cudi, Playboi Carti and Dev Hynes modeled the clothes. A year later, Abloh was appointed to the board of directors of The Council of Fashion Designers of America. He also spent time mentoring and providing vital resources for young and upcoming Black designers. His brilliance is deeply missed in the fashion world.
Occupation: Actress, Singer
Zendaya is a true fashionista in every sense of the world. The actress got her start on Disney Channel shows Shake It Up and K.C. Undercover. From there, she went on to star in Spider-Man franchise films before starring in HBO’s Euphoria as Rue Bennett, a teenager battling a drug addiction. That role garnered her a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series, making her the youngest person to receive one. Over the years, Zendaya has become known for how well she wears an outfit just as much as her acting skills. Some of her most memorable looks include: her Poison Ivy inspired custom Vera Wang gown at the 2019 Emmys, a fuchsia Tom Ford breastplate at the 2020 Critics’ Choice Awards and her yellow Valentino haute couture dress she wore at the 2021 Oscars. Zendaya has also been known to rock a mean suit–which has also become a vital staple in her wardrobe.
Occupation: Model, Social Media Influencer
Aside from having Michael B. Jordan as her bae, Lori Harvey’s imprint on the fashion world is an impressive one. The daughter of Steve and Marjorie Harvey has amassed a huge social media following based on her style. She is signed to LA Models and Select Models agencies. Harvey walked the runway for Dolce and Gabbana in addition to appearing in campaigns for Burberry, Chanel, Calvin Klein, Michael Kors and Pat McGrath. She sports vintage pieces by everyone from Rick Owens to Hermes to Vivienne Westwood. Harvey has also served as a brand ambassador for Pretty Little Things. Last year, she launched SKN by LH which focuses on being safe for sensitive skin. She previously told BET: “I think it’s very important to hold open the door for the next person and the next generation of girls that see me and are like, okay, I can do that.”
Occupation: Actress, Host
Not only is Keke Palmer one of the most infamous memes on the internet, her personality is one of a kind. Palmer, known for her work ethic, is an actress, singer and host whose stint on Good Morning America has become the most anticipated part of the show. However, she is also quite a fashion plate. The evolution of her style has been impressive. Whether it was rocking a lime green suit to Jimmy Kimmel Live in March to rocking feather gowns on red carpets, Palmer knows the power of looking good. She’s worn designers ranging from Giuseppe Zanotti to Chanel to Louis Vuitton to Stella McCartney. However, she’s always puts a twist on some of her most signature looks. The best part about Palmer is that she knows the fiercest thing you can wear is confidence.
You can’t talk about fashion without mentioning Adut Akech. The South Sudan native started her modeling career at the tender age of 16 signing to the Australian agency Chadwick models. Akech is a force on the runway and has walked for Versace, Givenchy, Tom Ford, Prada, Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Dior. She has also done campaigns for Moschino, Saint Laurent and Fendi. Akech made history in 2018 when she became the second Black model to close out Chanel’s Haute Couture show. That same year, Time selected her as one of the “25 Most Influential Teens of 2018.” A year later, she received “Model of the Year” at the British Fashion Awards. The model also boasts a friendship with Naomi Campbell and has appeared on magazine covers for Vogue, Dazed, Elle and i-D. Recently, Akech has done work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.
Occupation: CEO/Founder, Fashion Bomb Daily
The CEO and Founder of Fashion Bomb Daily showed that it was possible for Black women to carve out their own path in the style world. She founded the site back in 2006, with the catalyst being that she rarely saw women of color and curvy women in the magazines she read. Fashion Bomb Daily contains wardrobe advice, show reviews, original editorials and industry tips. It also has an online shop. Sulmers has written for places like Vogue Italia and Essence. She has given her fashion expertise for television programs including Daily Pop on E!, Project Runway, Real Housewives of Atlanta and The Kelly Clarkson show. Sulmers has become a trusted voice in media and constantly shows the dynamism and complexity of Black women.
Law Roach is a celebrity stylist whose client list is as fabulous as he is. It includes the likes of: Zendaya, Kerry Washington, Tiffany Haddish, Brandy, Celine Dion, and Ariana Grande. He opened a store called Deliciously Vintage right after he graduated college. Law Roach also started styling clients at the same time, with Zendaya becoming his first celebrity client in 2010. Some may remember his stints on “America’s Next Top Model,” “RuPaul’s Drag Race” and “Legendary.” In 2021, The Hollywood Reporter voted him Stylist of the Year–making him the first Black person to receive the honor. He also was awarded the honor for a second time in 2022. The best piece of advice he’s ever received? “To be still. When you really understand the meaning and the emotion behind that, I think it is really powerful. Just to be still,” he told the Wall Street Journal in March.
Occupation: Fashion Consultant, Writer
The digital creator and social media maven has held positions at publications such as Harper’s Bazaar, Cosmo and InStyle. At Bazaar, Rutherford went from intern to editor to special projects director. She has partnered with brands like Jimmy Choo, UGG, Tiffany & Co., Saks Fifth Avenue, Farfetch, Depop, Lincoln Motors and Rothys. In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd and nationwide protests, Rutherford founded 2BG Consulting with Danielle Precod. The goal of the company is to educate beauty brands on anti-racism and to show them how to truly be inclusive. The pair also conduct seminars for those brands on the history of white supremacy. Earlier this year, Rutherford started her own newsletter, Fwd Joy, where she discusses everything from what’s on her reading list to the importance of prioritizing mental health.
Occupation: Founder and Designer, Hanifa
Anifa Mvuemba started her career over a decade ago with Hanifa, with inclusivity being at the forefront of all of her designs. However, she experienced severe burnout in 2016 and almost dissolved the brand altogether. However, Mvuemba found the strength to persevere. “I remember saying a prayer: ‘God, if this is really what you want me to do, make it so that I never look back again,’” Mvuemba explained to Teen Vogue last year. Her Zenaida shoe wound up going viral on Twitter shortly after. That outpouring of support and years of determination led to her 2020 groundbreaking 3-D fashion show via Instagram Live. From being featured in Beyonce’s directory of Black-owned brands to Elle’s The State of Black Beauty package, the world has become more than familiar with her work. Now the designer’s clothes can be found on everyone from Zendaya to Quinta Brunson, proving that she has always been ahead of her time.
Kia Marie is a self-professed sneaker connoisseur who has an impeccable eye when it comes to shoes and outfits. The influencer and image consultant has evolved from blogging and YouTube videos to partnering with a plethora of brands including: Giorgio Armani, Dior, Puma, Calvin Klein, Nike and Estee Lauder. She has always advocated for diversity and inclusion, consulting for Fortune 500 companies like HBO, JetBlue and Target. Last year, Kia told Hypebae: “Highlight and hire more Black women in the industry. We are culture. We drive trends but we’re also excluded from these tables and conversations. Our aesthetic has been commodified without representation and compensation for too long.” Her ingenuity and fashion forward thinking has always set her apart from the rest.