For her new PAPER cover, industry powerhouse Issa Rae wore all emerging and independent Black designers, pulled by her longtime stylist Jason Rembert. From bold jewelry inspired by West Indian heritage to a footwear label that has already collaborated with Beyoncé's stylist Zerina Akers, check out below to learn more about the Black-owned brands that played an important part in our cover shoot with the Insecure star.
Designer Samantha Black is the brains behind SammyB, a ready-to-wear label known for its statement pieces and daring sensibility. The brand is inspired by all things New York City and is geared towards It-girls and average Janes alike. As the Project Runway alum succinctly sums it up, SammyB's aesthetic is all about "limelight-worthy pieces" made with a "couture trade hand."
Having already landed a collaboration with Beyonce's stylist Zerina Akers, Miami-based designer Keya Martin is well on her way to expanding her footwear label Keeyahri's reach around the world. The Clark Atlanta University alum left behind a career in corporate America to establish her shoe label, which is full of whimsical details and architectural shapes. She already has a brand signature: a winding sculptural heel that accents everything from thigh high boots to feathered pumps.
Lani Nesbit established JLANI Jewels in 2011 and since then has been worn by everyone from Blake Lively to Taraji P. Henson. Known for its eco-friendly approach to accessories design, each artistic piece is made in the US and blends delicate details with the stainless steel seen on everything from anklets to earrings and necklaces.
Born in England and raised in Brooklyn, Johnny Nelson grew up heavily influenced his local neighborhood jewelers that elevated hip-hop culture in the '80s and '90s. Citing designers like by Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen as early inspirations, Nelson's love for jewelry took off while performing on tour. His namesake label was established in 2014 and quickly gained a following for its manipulation of fine metals and stones that turn into statement, conversational pieces.
Described as a "a non-seasonal, hand made-to-order small brand," Apartment 202 contains various design signatures rooted in its simple yet utilitarian aesthetic. Founded by Miami native Brandee Godwin (a.k.a. BB), the label's name is taken from his first LA apartment and design studio. Staples include relaxed, baggy trousers and a strappy minimal top.
LA-based women's clothing label Lionne was founded in 2018 by Latoia Fitzgerald to complement the kid's line she started prior. Since then, the brand has launched several collections, including a "Royal Blood" range with pieces named after African queens. The label's sultry aesthetic (think lace, cutouts and sheer panels) has made it a go-to for confident, on-the-go women.
Aazhia Rhy started TLZ L'Femme with very little design experience, but it has since grown into a strong ready-to-wear business with well over 100k Instagram followers that has been seen on everyone from Winnie Harlow to Chloe x Halle. Known for its feminine, sexy silhouettes (denim crop tops, ruched mini dresses etc.), the brand is a favorite among confident, powerful women and celebrities alike.
An abbreviation of 'Not Your Average Size,' NYAS (pronounced Nn-why-A's) makes stylish quality shoes for women with feet on the larger side — up to size 14 in fact. From python pumps to chunky-soled boots, each extended-size pair acts as a solution to a problem many customers face who have a difficult time searching for styles in their size.
Bydose makes sleek, minimal and strappy thong/knotted sandals in neutral and nude colorways. For the UK-based luxury label, which was founded by Diana Dube in March 2019, luxury, sexiness and simplicity go hand in hand.
Phlemuns founder James Flemons founded his label in 2013 with a desire to bridge the gap between elevated fashion and everyday communities. Since the beginning, the unisex brand has maintained an inclusive 'slow-fashion' approach with each meticulous collection drawn from archival references and Black history.
Founded by the trio of Nigeria Ealey, Esaie Jean-Simon and Victor James, Tier refers to each collection as "projects" inspired by cultural, social and personal moments. Its most recent project pays homage to the Black experience with pieces developed in collaboration with the artist Pierre Jean Baptiste.
J Alxndra, the jewelry label founded by Jasmine Alexandria is made up of affordable, bold pieces including gold hoops and dangly earrings inspired by Alexandria's childhood where she grew up surrounded by jewels and would always dig through her mother's collection.