10 Emerging Creatives Who Inspire Innovation In Design
This feature is in the March/April Next Wave Issue. Click here to subscribe.
If there’s one point that our slate of emerging designers proves, it’s that there are no overnight sensations. They’ve been honing their skills for years. The results are creations that will move your senses, ignite your imagination and elevate our lives in 2022, and beyond. They deserve your attention and, where appropriate, a slide of the credit card.
1. Charles Harbison
Charles Harbison comprises women’s, men’s, and accessories crafted with extraordinary taste. Handbags are unfussy and unexpectedly sensuous. Tailored pieces and jewelry cry out with the same soulful tone. His jackets are to die for. Last year, Banana Republic tapped the North Carolina native, who studied architecture and textiles, for a collaboration. But he’s no Charlie-come-lately—Harbison’s been collecting fans since he went into business in 2013.
2. Johnny Nelson
The Brooklyn-based jewelry designer was one of 21 Black fine jewelry creatives in an exhibit that blew the hinges off Sotheby’s last September with its freshness and depth. Nelson’s astonishingly powerful pieces, like his four-finger Her Freedom ring commemorating Ida B. Wells, Sojourner Truth, and others, are hip and highly covetable.
3. Jean Paul Dia
It was Jean Paul Dia’s work for Valentino’s resort 2020 collection that first caught our attention, followed by his graciousness. Dia (also the man behind the lens for
EDITION’s debut December 2021 issue video with Issa Rae) has been hustling between New York and Atlanta honing his videography and photography. His videos and still images expertly meld the tricky business of showcasing the fashion merchandise with a lens that finds the lushness of luxury and an ability to tease out the glow of a wide range of skin tones.
4. FEWOCiOUS (Victor Langlois)
Ferocious is the word for FEWOCiOUS’ NFT sneaker collaboration with NFT fashion agency RTFKT. The sneakers from the teenage transgender digital artist, who is of El Salvadorean descent, sold for $3,000 to $10,000 each. Last spring, Christie’s held a FEWOCiOUS sale. In December, RTFKT announced it was bought by Nike. Coincidence?
5. Erika Dalya Massaquoi
This year is shaping up to be the biggest year yet for Massaquoi. There’s likely no designer in fashion with quite her background—curator, an academician with a Ph.D., culture expert, journalist, and vintage fashion collector. She’s poured all this into her breezy, beautiful OULA collection made in the USA with delectable Ghanaian and Indian Ankara fabrics. From an initial three stores, OULA will now be available in 10 Nordstrom stores. This year, she’ll introduce brass jewelry on the brand’s website.
6. AB + DM
When was the last time top-flight fashion photography came out of Atlanta? Not before AB + DM’s Ahmed Barber and Donté Maurice. In just four years, their technical prowess and Dali-esque playfulness have gained the duo several major covers and a powerful collaborator-guardian angel in stylist Law Roach.
7. Luis de Javier
You may actually enjoy being shocked by Luis de Javier’s imaginative jackets with their outsize or aggressively pointed shoulders. There’s also his dangerously sexy dresses in black or white that defy you to figure out how they stay on. Moving up the ranks of London’s fashion scene, the Spanish newcomer cut his teeth on Europe’s gay club scene and has already dressed Rihanna.
8. Marrisa Wilson
Can sportswear be both relaxed and manicured, modern and retro? In Wilson’s hands, undeniably yes. Custom prints and vibrant combinations on crisp silhouettes are a Wilson trademark. She operates from a philosophy of empowering multicultural women and creating woman-to-woman support, she says.
9. Asia Hall
Hall’s Neon Cowboys is electrifying fashion with her collection worn by celebrities like Kacey Musgraves. Hall was a teenager when André Leon Talley, on an appointment at her father Kevan Hall’s showroom, saw her and, on a whim, asked her to pose for Vogue in one of her dad’s red-carpet gowns. These days, Hall is as passionate about technology as she is about design elements.
10. Rio Uribe
One of the first to make a statement with gender fluidity on New York runways, the CFDA/ Vogue Fashion Fund co-winner returned home to California a few years ago with his innovative Gypsy Sport brand (founded in 2012) and took a hiatus from shows. For NYFW spring/summer 2022 in October, he returned with an arresting celebration of his Chicano culture. Now it’s his goal is to increase that representation in fashion.