Antoine Gregory Launches Black Fashion Fair

The fashion industry has a reputation of curating tight-knit groups of industry insiders. These groups, usually limited in regards to diversity have unfortunately been at the helm of the industry making it an even more challenge for Black creatives to thrive.

However, within the last few months, fashion has seen an arguable rebirth in correlation to its support for creatives of color. Within the year, due to what some may call a global uprising, the industry has started to critically think about the employment of Black curators within the style space also while having the difficult conversation of the lack of resources provided to Black designers.

“Black designers not sharing the same opportunities as their contemporaries is something that I kind of always noticed,” says fashion consultant, Antoine Gregory. Today, Gregory launches Black Fashion Fair, a conceptual trade show. “Where fashion, community, and culture meet,” the website reads.

“Black Fashion Fair was founded with the mission to discover, support and further Black designers and the communities they inspire,” Gregory tells ESSENCE. “It started with me going to FIT and the being the only Black student. I wondered, if I’m the only Black student and I’m in one of the best fashion schools in the world, it says to me that Black designers don’t even have access to the education.”

The face of Gregory may come as a surprise but the fashion consultant has a hefty following under the name @bibbygregory on Twitter. With a rising 12.2k follower count, he is usually indulging in fashion’s hottest takes from campaigns, fashion week, and Black style.

“Black Fashion Fair was founded with the mission to discover, support and further Black designers and the communities they inspire.” – Antoine Gregory

In 2016, Gregory started a twitter thread listing Black designers. “I updated it throughout the years. Their name, their brand and their website,” he says. “Because I think a lot of the time we know designers by brand. Black designers deserve to be known by name,” Gregory explained. 4 years later, his idea which started on social media has transitioned into a multi-media platform.

When logging onto Black Fashion Fair, there is a design directory that includes an evolving list of over 150 Black designers. “It’s an opportunity discover Black designers in a way that goes beyond a listicle. It is also a tool to reach the designer brands through commerce,” he says. “Buying Black is easy, But we need support and community around Black designers that help sustain their businesses long-term. I want to see Black designers become heritage brands.”

The functionality of the platform however goes beyond the database, Black Fashion Fair serves as a creative conglomerate that allows an editorial light shined on Black designers. The website will also include fashion stories, portfolios, and of course, an emerging fashion fair. Due to COVID-19, his original plans to launch the trade show were postponed until Spring 2021, in which he details will travel beyond NYC. “You will be able to shop and speak to Black designers to understand more of the process behind collections. I’m also going to be traveling seasonally with collections.”

Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond from Pyer Moss is first designer Gregory worked with for Black Fashion Fair on its “Fashion Stories” concept. “KJR is the first designer to sign on to this project,” Gregory exclaimed. ” I wanted to work with Kerby on our first fashion story because he’s an example of what it looks like to tell our own stories and to own the narrative around Black fashion.”

As the industry begins to shine light on more Black fashion curators than ever, it’s equally important that these stories are told by creatives or color as well. Gregory sharing the same sentiments, “As diversity and inclusion become more important than ever, it is compulsory that we tell the stories of Black designers. “It is important that we have a say in how we are included and that we own the cultural information we put forth into the world,” Gregory concludes.

To learn more about Black Fashion Fair, visit www.blackfashionfair.org.

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