THE BLACK PIONEERS OF STREETWEAR

THE BLACK PIONEERS OF STREETWEAR

 As a legacy brand in the streetwear game celebrating our 20th Anniversary this year, Billionaire Boys Club celebrates the Black designers who have influenced the past, present, and future of streetwear and paved the way for all aspiring creatives of color.

From Virgil Abloh’s introduction of streetwear into high-fashion while paying homage to black culture and creatives, to Kerby Jean-Raymond disrupting the fashion industry with Pyer Moss runways that highlight police brutality, evoke social commentary, and celebrate Black achievement - these Black artist’s have all provided something more than trends and silhouettes.

- Billionaire Boys Club -


WILLI SMITH

“Being Black has a lot to do with my being a good designer. Most of these designers who have to run to Paris for color and fabric combinations should go to church on Sunday in Harlem. It’s all right there.” - Willi Smith

Regarded as the ‘father of streetwear’, African-American designer Willi Smith launched his label, WilliWear Limited, in 1976, generating over $25 million in revenue per year.

WilliWear Limited revolutionized fashion marketing and accessibility with his motto,“I don’t design clothes for the queen, but the people who wave at her as she goes by.”


VIRGIL ABLOH

Remembered as one of the greatest creatives in modern history, Chicago-native Virgil Abloh took the high fashion world by storm first as Louis Vuitton’s first African-American artistic director in 2018. In 2013 Virgil founded fashion house, Off-White, bringing streetwear to the high fashion world.

Virgil’s rampant success included earning himself a spot in Time Magazine’s 2018 100 most influential people in the world list and a star studded client portfolio such as Rihanna, Solange, and Hailey Bieber. Virgil used his platform to advocate for the next generation of Black creatives, raise funds and awareness for important causes, and celebrate Black culture.


KIMORA LEE SIMMONS

In the late ‘90s, hip-hop fashion took the streets by storm. Soon, established rappers and hip-hop artists filled the fashion industry with celebrity brands such as Rocawear and Pelle Pelle. In a sea of hip-hop wear marketed towards men, multi-disciplinary and supermodel, Kimora Lee Simmons, launched her womenswear and accessories line, Baby Phat, in 1999. Created by and for Black women, the brand’s fashion shows celebrated black culture. Baby Phat aligned with hip-hop luxury and starred black hip-hop icons such as Lil Kim modeling in shows. Soon, the bedazzled-clad clothes soon became the standard for 2000s fashion and rose to a billion dollar company.

Kimora Lee Simmons creative vision shifted the mindset high-fashion had towards working with black talent and marketing towards black consumers.


DAPPER DAN

Harlem native, Daniel Day, widely referred to as Dapper Dan earned his moniker from being known as the originator of luxury streetwear. In less than a decade, the self-taught Dan went from selling clothes out of his car to opening his first boutique in 1982. The boutique was open 24/7 and filled with his ready-to-wear resigned luxury pieces that fashion house silhouettes didn’t offer such as durable fabrics and bodacious silhouettes.

Dapper Dan’s hip-hop inspired silhouettes quickly rose to fame and Dan dressed the industry favorites such as LL Cool J and Salt-N-Pepa. Dapper Dan catered to Black trends and styles with name brands from a luxury world that was stiff on black culture. Dapper Dan’s work closed the gap between luxury and streetwear and his signature lines luxury runways today with the use of oversized silhouettes and bold branding.


KIRBY JEAN-RAYMOND

Brooklyn native and Haitian American designer, Kirby Jean-Raymond, founded streetwear label Pyer Moss. From past to present and adversity to achievement, Pyer Moss aims to convey the Black experience. Raymond shook the fashion world with his 2016 Summer fashion show that put a spotlight on police brutality and Black Lives Matter.

Since then, Raymond has utilized Pyer Moss as a platform to display black achievements such as his 2021 couture show that had models dressed in Black inventions like the traffic light and peanut butter. Through conversation and statement pieces, Raymond’s work demands conversation around the lived Black experience.


TELFAR CLEMENS

Liberian-American designer, Telfar Clemes, founded fashion brand Telfar in 2005. Telfar, identifying as queer himself, hasn’t passed up the opportunity to utilize his popular label to advocate for the LGBTQ community and fluidity in the fashion world.

In his 2019 show, Clemens centered the collection around celebrating Black Future, followed by his 2020 line of do-rags.

The label, widely known for its practical and chic handbag has become a champion of Black culture in the fashion world.


SHAYNE OLIVER

Inspired by his streetwear predecessors, Shayne Oliver, delivered celebrity-favorite New York City streetwear brand, Hood By Air (HBA).

Oliver has been one of the most influential designers to utilize the runway for social and political storytelling. Filled with 90s nostalgia, luxury materials, and unisex silhouettes, Oliver’s luxury streetwear brand gained the likes of stars such as Rihanna, Kendrick Lamar, Kanye West, and A$AP Rocky and received international recognition as the winner of the LVMH Prize in 2014.

Stay tuned for their Black History Month release with non-profit organization Black Ambition.














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