Though Black History Month has come to an end, it’s all the more imperative to recognize and uplift black creatives year round. The fashion industry hasn’t always been the most inclusive, but there are strides working towards diversity.

Possibly the most major historic achievement for a black designer as of recent was Virgil Abloh’s appointment to artistic director of menswear for Louis Vuitton in 2018. This was the first time an African American was appointed to lead a major European fashion house. Since the inception of his label Off-White, Abloh success has skyrocketed at dizzying speeds. He took what everyone deemed as another trend — streetwear — and transformed it into a coveted, high-fashion style.

Abloh is a powerful force and a black history hero. “When I see Abloh, it gives me hope,” said third-year fashion marketing and management student Stefun Darts, “To see a black man so immersed in the industry and have so much influence, it makes me excited for what’s to come. He pulls inspiration from so many different directions. It shows that we’re not just a hip-hop culture.”

There are other black designers in the industry who are making innovative and desired collections. Samuel Ross of streetwear label A-Cold-Wall* has seen great success since the start of his career. Ross broke into the fashion scene when he and longtime friend Ace Harper started the streetwear label 2wnt4.

Two years after 2wnt4., Ross created a new brand — A-Cold-Wall*. In 2017, A-Cold-Wall* received the NEWGEN award from the British Fashion Council. From 2016-2017, the brand brought in a revenue of $1.7 million. The label shows at London Fashion Week. One of Ross’ latest endeavors includes a capsule collection with Nike.

LaQuan Smith made his New York Fashion Week debut with his namesake label in 2013 when he was 21 years old. Embracing femininity and its power, he garnered a clientele of fashion’s most powerful women — including Beyoncé, Rihanna and Lady Gaga. His spring 2019 ready-to-wear collection was a testament to strong women, featuring vintage mugshot prints and body-hugging silhouettes. Smith also designed a collection for clothing website ASOS.

“I love a good curve — LaQuan Smith is always about accentuating the waist points and carving out the hips and just really celebrating the body,” said Smith in an interview with Fashionista, “Now people know my identity and what I stand for … I just feel really blessed. For me, with all the incredible trials and errors that I go through as a designer, as a young business on the rise, I thoroughly enjoy what I do.”