Systemic racism is a problem in America. That’s as true now as it was 100 years ago. But 2020’s massive, grassroots protests against police brutality and entrenched structural racism may have marked the beginning of some necessary changes. After all, it was impossible to ignore the largest instances of civil disobedience in American history. Now, at least some institutions are listening to the citizenry’s demands for equal treatment and representation for all people, regardless of skin color or background. And in fashion, which has a long history of excluding Black creators, Macy’s has been among the boldest to respond. In an effort to correct course, the department store is releasing five new collaborations with some of the country’s best Black fashion minds. Enter Macy’s 2021 Icons of Style collections, where the retailer has partnered with five Black visionaries to create capsules reflecting the diversity of its customer base. This spring, Macy’s private INC, Bar III, and SUN + STONE labels will release limited collections created in partnership with trailblazing creators Zerina Akers, Misa Hylton, Aminah Abdul Jillil, Allen Onyia, and Ouigi Theodore. 

With the first of these collections coming later this month, Complex checked in with Akers, Hylton, and Abdul Jillil to get their thoughts on creativity, being a Black creator in America, and their advice for those seeking to follow in their footsteps in fashion. Read on to see what they said, and be sure to watch the videos below where the creators have intimate chats with Durand Guion, the Vice President of Macy’s Fashion Office, about their careers and upcoming collaborations. Then keep an eye out for our interviews with Onyia and Theodore coming out ahead of their Macy’s drops in May.

 

Zerina Akers