The Council of Fashion Designers of America’s annual CFDA Awards is recognized as the Oscars of American fashion. While tending to highlight more established fashion houses, a nomination or win for fresh names in the business has the ability to propel a newer designer’s career. Despite fashion leaders' recent recognition of the need for increased diversity in the industry, this year’s nominations have drawn criticism as categories are still mainly filled with white, well-known designers. However, while it is clear that American fashion has a long way to go regarding diversity and inclusion, five very talented Black designers were amongst this year’s nominees; read more about them below.
Photo: Kerby Jean-Raymond/WWD
Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss – American Menswear Designer of the Year
Kerby Jean-Raymond has been a designer to watch for a number of years now, since founding his brand Pyer Moss in 2013. However, the breadth of his talent reached wider audiences after he won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2018. His fashion shows are known to celebrate Black culture and are one of the few each season that features a majority cast of Black models. While Jean-Raymond is nominated in the menswear category, he also designs womenswear under the Pyer Moss label and has dressed the likes of Tracee Ellis Ross, Victor Cruz, and Lena Waithe.
Photo: Getty Images
Telfar Clemens for Telfar – American Accessories Designer of the Year
Telfar Clemens is a New York-based fashion designer who is much more interested in dressing the everyday person rather than the "one percent" high fashion generally targets. Starting his line in 2005 while still a college student, he too went on to win the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2017. Clemens has also made waves for brand collaborations, notably partnering with White Castle where proceeds went to bail funds for teenagers on Rikers Island. In 2020, it was announced that the designer would partner with fashion mega-brand The Gap on a capsule clothing collection, however, the deal was canceled later in the year. We continue to look forward to seeing the big things Telfar has to come.
Christopher John Rogers
Christopher John Rogers – American Emerging Designer of the Year
One of the newer names on the list, Christopher John Rogers, is also making waves in American fashion. Known for his brightly colored, festive pieces often made in unique silhouettes, Rogers is recognized in the CFDA's emerging designer category. Although he launched his line just a few seasons ago, he has already dressed luminaries such as Rihanna and Gabrielle Union. While Rogers is more widely known for his womenswear designs (which can be purchased on the website Net-A-Porter), he has also designed menswear looks for the likes of Lil Nas X.
Photo: Maria D. De Jesus
Kenneth Nicholson – American Emerging Designer of the Year
Also nominated in the emerging category is menswear designer Kenneth Nicholson. The Los Angeles-based designer completed his fashion education at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. The aesthetic of his fashion line, which he launched in 2016, draws heavily from his experiences serving in the U.S. Navy mixed with his international travels. Nicholson is known across the industry for his ability to push the limits of menswear with his unique takes on silhouettes and techniques not usually associated with men’s fashion, as can be seen in outfits he has created for clients such as Jidenna.
Photo: Katrina Wittkam
Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton – Global Men’s Designer of the Year
It is clear that Virgil Abloh could now be considered a fashion heavyweight, with the success of both his own brand, Off-White, and his tenure as creative director of fashion powerhouse Louis Vuitton’s menswear line, for which he is nominated. Since taking the helm of Vuitton menswear in 2018, his clothing and accessories collections for the house have been met with rave reviews. Items such as his innovative takes on the classic Louis Vuitton "Keepall" travel bag have been so sought after that they can go for as much as $16,000 on the resell market. And with faithful Abloh-for-Vuitton fans like Odell Beckham, Jr., The Migos and the Kardashian-Jenner clan, it is clear that CFDA Award win or not, Virgil will continue to ascend the heights of both American and French fashion for the foreseeable future.