Who are the Top Black Luxury Menswear Designers?
All products are independently selected by our editors. If you buy something, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Who are the top black luxury menswear designers right now? Our correspondent Julie Chang Murphy has curated a list of the top black designers of luxury menswear and the leading black-led menswear brands, along with some of the best looks from their most recent collections. It’s Black Excellence of the highest order – and the work is stunning.
Top black designers of luxury menswear
Here at Dandelion Chandelier, we’re on a mission to highlight black-led luxury businesses, to make it easy for all of us to support them with our dollars. (For those who are wondering, we’re not capitalizing “Black” – ’cause our CEO is black and she thinks this particular New Thing seems over-engineered and unnecessary).
Black excellence can be found in every industry. And although some of the best-known black cultural influencers work in fashion, black designers are still underrepresented in the field – and they face far more obstacles to success than their white counterparts.
In a recent devastating report, the Washington Post says that 40 percent of black-owned businesses have closed permanently amidst the coronavirus pandemic. That’s almost double the number for white-owned business.
Join our community
For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier newsletter. And see luxury in a new light.
sign up now >
Fashion is also notorious for appropriating innovations and icons from black culture. Yet even as recently as the past two years, luxury European design houses were committing egregious faux pas about race, and feigning ignorance after promoting historically racist imagery in their designs or marketing (yep, we’re looking right at you, Gucci and Prada).
Luckily, there is a world of luxury menswear from top black designers from which to shop.
Some of them need no introduction. Surely you’ve heard a thing or two about Kanye West and his brand, Yeezy. And the late Virgil Abloh, who hardly needs an introduction as the founder of Off-White and the Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division.
However, here are 15 of the most influential black menswear designers you should know in addition to those two. Whether you’re looking for subversive streetwear, an elegant bespoke suit – or everything in between – you’ll find it here. Have a look at some of the best collections from black menswear designers.
And if you see something, say something. A major barrier to the success of many black-led luxury fashion brands is getting distribution on the most popular shopping platforms. So if you find a brand you love, and your preferred e-commerce site doesn’t carry it, let them know. Consumer demand drives change faster than anything – so you have the power to help change the world, dear reader, one outfit at a time.
the leading black-led luxury menswear brands
Here are the brands and some of the best collections from black menswear designers.
1. Samuel Ross – A-Cold-Wall*
Every profile about London-based Samuel Ross notes that he was the protégé of Virgil Abloh. But five years into the launch of his label, Ross holds his own. The designer has added a collection of sophisticated, tailored menswear to his popular screen-printed streetwear.
The directional aesthetic of A-Cold-Wall* is modern, youthful and subversive. The brand itself is progressive and engaged. For example, in the midst of the Justice For George Floyd protests in London, Ross pledged £25,000 to support black-owned businesses spread across 10 individual grants. Along with a £10,000 donation in financial aid to Black Lives Matter. In the brand’s own words, its mission is to deliver an ongoing “sartorial response to London street culture and the zeitgeist of Britain’s working class.” Consider it done.
Celebrating Black Fashion Designers You Need to Know Now
read more >
2. Olivier Rousteing of Balmain
Olivier Rousteing, the French fashion designer and creative director of Balmain since 2011, makes jackets and blazers as distinctive and cutting as his cheekbones. His style is unapologetically confident and fearless, riffing on military, rock, collegiate, and sleek tuxedo influences. There’s a reason fashion insiders call its wearers the Balmain Army.
His maximalist sensibility is a celeb magnet but Rousteing started off with more humble origins. Adopted from a French orphanage as a baby, he only recently discovered through the filming of “Wonder Boy,” a documentary based on his life (so far) that his parents are Somalian and Ethiopian – upending his belief that he was mixed. His unique background has led him to democratize French fashion with influences from contemporary culture from using icons from hip-hop to featuring diverse models throughout his tenure at Balmain.
Among the legendary top black menswear designers and black-led luxury menswear brands is London-based Casely-Hayford, known for combining Savile Row expertise with counter-cultural cool. The brand was launched in 2009 by family patriarch – and sadly, recently deceased – Joseph Ephraim Casely-Hayford OBE. Beginning in the mid-1980’s, he established an international reputation as one of the country’s most respected designers and served as creative director for Gieves & Hawkes. The made-to-measure suiting business is now run by his son Charlie, a Central Saint Martins and Courtauld Institute graduate.
The Casely-Hayford flagship retail location is located right next to the chic Chiltern Firehouse in London. bespoke, 3000-fabric-choices strong. Casely-Hayford offers 70 variables of measurements; another 40 customization options; and 3,000 fabric choices, including many that are quite rare. Clients include Michael Fassbender and Robert Downey Jr., and Charlie sums up the vibe of the brand as it moves forward under his leadership: “I wear a suit every day, I wear it like it’s tracksuit bottoms. I rarely wear a shirt – always a T-shirt and with trainers or boots. It doesn’t feel formal to me, and I don’t treat it like that.”
4. Brett Johnson
Fueled by a passion for luxury Italian textiles and time-honored Italian tailoring techniques, American Brett Johnson’s menswear is distinguished by sumptuous cashmere knits and exquisitely crafted jackets and coat. Growing up, the designer vacationed often in Europe with his family (his parents, Sheila and Robert Johnson, founded Black Entertainment Television in 1979). He gained an appreciation for Italian clothes and craft that eventually led him to seek out small workshops in and around Florence to produce his apparel line.
His clothing is designed for the man who embraces effortless city sophistication and a love of the outdoors (the designer divides his time between New York City and his weekend home in the Virginia country side). Johnson opened his first concept store in New York’s SoHo at 109 Mercer Street in 2017. Stocked with his full range of elegant luxury clothing, outerwear, and knitwear, the space is also appointed with wood-and-Lucite furnishings that he helped design.
5. Darryl Brown
Darryl Brown’s utilitarian clothing line is inspired by his own authentic working background as a steel mill worker and as a railroad engineer. He gave up this blue collar work to become Kanye West’s stylist.
Brown says: “I did the 9-to-5 factory life. I really wore these pieces every day. My dad actually wore these pieces, my mom actually wore these pieces.” His collections have the heritage look of workwear brands like Dickies and Carhartt. However, they are infused with the elegance and quality of luxury fashion.
6. Jerry Lorenzo – Fear of God
Los Angeles designer Jerry Lorenzo founded Fear of God in 2013, and it quickly became a streetwear status symbol. Cult favorites include the brand’s side-zip hoodies, bomber jackets and extra-long t-shirts.
His low-key basics with a high luxury factor are sold at high-end online boutiques like SSense and Mr. Porter, and in brick and mortar stores like Nordstrom and Selfridges.
7. Grace Wales Bonner – Wales Bonner
Not every top black menswear designer and black-led luxury menswear brand is run by a man! After graduating from the prestigious Central Saint Martins in London, Grace Wales Bonner established her eponymous menswear label. It’s known for representing a luxurious hybrid of European and Afro-Atlantic approaches.
Each collection centers around references to black culture and achievement, from painter Kerry James Marshall to filmmaker Melvin Van Peebles. Wales Bonner’s SS20 collection is centered around the influences of mid-century Cuba. The work of high fashion has taken note. In 2019, Wales Bonner was invited by Maria Grazia Chiuri to collaborate with Dior to re-interpret their New Look silhouette for the Resort 2020 collection. She was also named the winner of the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund.
The Best Black-Owned Luxury Beauty Brands Right Now
read more >
8. Heron Preston
Many black-led luxury menswear brands are focused on sustainability and ethical sourcing, and this is one of them. As a designer, DJ, and art director, Heron Preston’s work is deeply inspired by sustainability and technology. A Parsons School of Design alumnus, his menswear collection is high-end “workwear redefined”. Preston’s eponymous streetwear label, launched in 2016, has also been featured in collaborations with Off-White, Carhartt, Nike, NASA and the NYC Department of Sanitation.
His unique worldview – New York by way of San Francisco- consistently produces visually stunning collections steeped in internet, youth, and counterfeit culture.
9. Walé Oyéjidé – Ikiré Jones
From music artist and producer to lawyer to luxury menswear designer, Walé Oyéjidé has been on a fascinating journey, and consistently delivers some of the best collections from black menswear designers. His clothing line, Ikiré Jones, is comprised of Afro-centric menswear pieces integrated with narratives ranging from the Renaissance to classical African culture. With many pieces made in Philadelphia, and the tagline “Clothing for a Higher Calling,” you’ll find African design and textiles seamlessly integrated into the brand’s expertly crafted American suiting and statement scarves.
In collaboration with co-founder and tailor Sam Hubler, Oyéjidé has built a brand that, as he puts it, creates “beautiful things that sit to the left of what has been resignedly accepted as the status quo.” Passionate about fighting embedded racial bias with creative storytelling, Oyéjidé was tapped by Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth E. Carter to create tailored suiting for some of the Wakanda elite in Black Panther.
10. Martine Rose
Jamaican-British designer Martine Rose is inspired by the high/low melting pot cultures of London. Her off-beat menswear line is carried by luxury e-commerce sites like Farfetch, SSense and MatchesFashion, but it still retains an insider’s underground cult credibility.
Her collection of understated basics has a distinct early 90’s-era rave and hip hop vibe, with unexpected details for the discerning fashion-forward gent. Her work is consistently among the best-received collections from black menswear designers.
The Best Fashion for a Perfect Day in New York City
read more >
11. Ozwald Boateng
Born in London to Ghanaian parents, Ozwald Boateng created his first collection using his mother’s sewing machine in the late 80’s. He later apprenticed with Savile Row’s legendary tailor, Tommy Nutter.
As a top black menswear designer and founder of a prestigious black-led luxury menswear brand, Boateng has had a fascinating career. He has dressed the likes of Mick Jagger, Jimmy Paige, Spike Lee and Will Smith in his distinctive aesthetic. The look fuses traditional classic British tailoring with high-end modern design. There’s particular focus on the refinement of a man’s silhouette. Making the shopping experience even more fun? Ozwald Boateng’s studio on Savile Row is one of the few Black-owned businesses on the storied street.
12. Patrick Robinson – Paskho
Patrick Robinson has had a rich fashion design resume – designing for iconic brands like Giorgio Armani, Perry Ellis and The GAP. But after a life-changing trip to Yosemite National Park, Robinson returned to New York to launch a new apparel line called Paskho.
Robinson’s trip inspired him to create a wholly new type of clothing line: sustainable, performance-based luxury basics. In one of the best collections from black menswear designers, the brand’s designs are filled with thoughtful details and fabrics that drape like those used in high-end fashion.
13. Pyer Moss
After working as a designer for the likes of Marchesa, Marc Jacobs, and Theory, Haitian-American Kerby Jean-Raymond launched Pyer Moss to critical acclaim. And quickly achieved the status of one of the top black menswear designers and black-led luxury menswear brands in America. Jean-Raymond is a recipient of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award. And his statement-making designs often center around telling black stories and promoting activism on behalf of black communities around the world.
For example, his Spring 2020 collection is entitled “Sister,” in an homage to Sister Rosetta Tharpe. A singer-songwriter, Tharpe is widely considered to be the godmother of rock and roll, though her legacy has been grossly diminished in music’s history book. The designer noted: “I wanted to explore what that [rock and roll] aesthetic might have looked like if her story would have been told.”Jean-Raymond also currently serves as artistic director at Reebok.
One of the most in-the-know bags circulating among stylish Brooklyn and downtown types is Telfar Clemens’ faux leather tote bag – dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin.” best collections black menswear designers Its essential appeal represents what Telfar is all about. The designer is conceptually exploring ideas of identity, gender, homogeneity, America, and consumerism through fashion. The brand’s tagline says it all: “Not for you – for everyone.”
It’s clear that his ardent followers – many of whom are young, queer-adjacent and POC – sense an authenticity in his work that no marketing can buy. Clemens won a CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award, and his fan club includes playwright Jeremy O. Harris, rapper Butch Dawson, Solange and Kelela.
A recent Telfar headline is an unfortunate one: after a splashy launch in January 2020 of a two-season collaboration with The Gap, Clemens’ deal was swept away just weeks later by an even splashier launch of a 10-year collaboration between The Gap and Kanye West’s Yeezy label.
The debacle may very well prove to be a blessing for Clemens and his business, though. In the aftermath of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand has focused its energy on online sales. And the products are selling out like mad.
15. Waraire Boswell
We conclude our list of top black menswear designers with American designer Waraire Boswell. He specializes in crisp, bespoke suits and has dressed the late Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Colin Kaepernick and many other stylish NBA and NFL players and actors. Like these men, his designs exude an effortless elegance and confidence.
Boswell began his career working for United Talent Agency (UTA) and William Morris Agency. Fellow agents took notice of his unique style and attention to detail, and ultimately, he decided to follow his passion. Boswell began making custom and ready-to-wear menswear full-time in 2002. The luxury menswear brand also offers ready-to-wear suits for men and women, loungewear, streetwear and shoes.
the top black designers of luxury menswear right now
While this list of top black menswear designers and black-led luxury menswear brands is by no means exhaustive, we hope you’ve discovered a few new brands to shop the next time you’re in the market.
join our community
For access to insider ideas and information on the world of luxury, sign up for our Dandelion Chandelier Newsletter here. And see luxury in a new light.
Crediting her training as a cultural anthropologist at Wellesley College, Julie has immersed herself in various industries in the last 15 years including fashion design, event planning, and fitness. Julie lives in New York where she loves trying every ramen and dumpling restaurant with her husband and three children. She finds joy in bold prints, biographies of fierce women, kickboxing. And spending way too long finding the perfect polish color to express her mood.