Carly Cushnie and Aurora James, two fashion designers of Jamaican descent, have been included on Vogue Magazine’s list of the top 15 black designers to know about in 2020. Vogue compiled the list to mark Fashion Week and Black History Month. The designers on the list have taken strong stands on societal issues with their designs and have often refused to follow traditional fashion industry demands, making changes to the industry as they create their own fashion lines, and two of these innovative designers have ties to Jamaica.
Cushnie was born in London and grew up there. She now resides in New York, but has always relied on her Jamaican identity in her work. She separated from her business partner Michelle Ochs after a decade of working together at the firm they co-founded called Cushnie et Ochs and launched her first solo collection, which was received with praise from fashion editors. She then launched Cushnie Bridal and a line of handbags. She has consistently shown growth in her designs and made an excellent showing at the fall 2019 New York Fashion Week. She is known for her signature high-slit dresses and jumpsuits with peek-a-boo silk lines.
Aurora James is the founder of the footwear firm Brother Vellies. She lives in Toronto and, according to Vogue, has “taken over” the footwear industry. During her childhood she spent time in Jamaica and has called it her “happy place.” She moved to Canada with her family when she was seven years old. James travels with world seeking inspiration from local craftspeople and even during a vacation on Jamaica, she used her experience as inspiration for her designs. In particular, she cited the vibrant color palettes of the country. James founded her company to introduce the world to her favorite African footwear and to develop sustainable jobs for craftspeople in Africa. Her fashion footwear line comprises boots, shoes, and sandals made in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Morocco.