La La Anthony and Kahlana Barfield Brown on Celebrating HBCUs and Black Designers
The fashion world has made incredible strides when it comes to championing inclusivity, especially for Black designers. Long gone are the days when an industry titan like André Leon Talley was the only Black person in the room at a runway show. Though there’s still a long way to go, the Black community is gaining more visibility in fashion, from editors and stylists to designers. In fact, some of the most anticipated collection debuts and runway shows are from Black-owned brands, like Christopher John Rogers, Theophilio, Harbison, and Sergio Hudson. Even Bridal Fashion Week has welcomed names like Hanifa and Andrea Osei Bride to great acclaim. This past New York Fashion Week season gave us another era-defining moment on the journey to more representation: the Big Motion HBCU Runway in partnership with UPS.
“The goal is not only to spotlight the incredible talent emerging from our institutions but also enrich the fashion world with fresh perspectives, diverse voices, and a commitment to inclusivity that the industry needs.”
Three HBCU alumni designers showcased their collections using $150,000 in small-business grants from UPS: Nola McEachin and Shaq Robotham of The Brand Label, Undra Duncan of Undra Celeste New York, and Chelsea Grays for her eponymous label. Celebrities like actor La La Anthony, who attended Howard University, showed support from the front row. “Everyone needs a platform to showcase their work, so it’s something I wanted to get behind,” she told POPSUGAR. “To see such a huge partner like UPS put money into these designers in front of all the movers and shakers of New York was really a moment. You can have a great product, you can have great whatever, but you need the exposure and you need the eyes on it.”
Fashion and beauty expert and editor Kahlana Barfield Brown, a proud Howard University graduate, was on hand to help select and mentor the show’s designers. “The goal is not only to spotlight the incredible talent emerging from our institutions but also enrich the fashion world with fresh perspectives, diverse voices, and a commitment to inclusivity that the industry needs,” she said.
In the spirit of HBCU homecoming season, we spoke to Anthony and Barfield Brown about their experiences at Howard University and their hopes for the future of fashion.