AFROPUNK has named the 2022 inaugural class for the new Black Fashion Accelerator program. Participants take a 6-month intensive program created in partnership with Shopify to “elevate an array of aspiring Black fashion designers on the path to grow their businesses,” according to a press release.

Program Mentor Chris Bevans, creative director at DYNE, will lead the rising talent along with three guest mentors throughout the course. Bevans began his career apprenticing at a local tailoring house he eventually became the owner of at 19 years old. He continued to the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT), and from 2003 to 2007 he was Design Director of Nike’s Blue Ribbon Sports Division

Throughout his career, Bevans has worked with brands such as Billionaire Boys Club, Head (Tennis), Sean John, Yeezy, Smithsonian, New York Cosmos, and the MacArthur Foundation and designed for clients including Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, LeBron James, and John Legend.

Once the program ends in June, a fashion show will be held showcasing the student’s creative endeavors.

Read mini-bios on the Black Fashion Accelerator 2022 Inaugural Class provided by AFROPUNK below:

  • Bronté Laurent (Founder, Par Bronte Laurent): par Bronté Laurent is a luxury womenswear fashion brand that creates classic, chic, and minimal designs that offer comfortability and opulence in each piece. Constructed for women to live unapologetically lavish this label is 70% sustainable by using dead-stock materials being sourced and made in Ghana.
  • Archie Clay III & Tajh Crutch(Founders, WEAR BRIMS): Wear Brims is a luxury hat and accessory company that is founded on the principles of faith, family, confidence, which are at the core of every decision and every design we make. We understand the importance of being your best self internally, and how that translates into how you express yourself fashionably. Our goal is for everyone to present to the world their most confident self. Be the most confident in the room. “Wear Brims. Wear Confidence.”
  • Corin Lindsay (Founder, CORIN DEMARCO): Corin DeMarco is a lifestyle and apparel brand that provides premium- quality, culturally relevant apparel, and accessories for Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU). Addressing an issue that has long plagued the HBCU apparel space – the availability of premium-quality apparel that is also stylish and tailored to the preferences of the HBCU community of students, alumni, and fans, the Corin DeMarco brand’s super quality and fabrics reflect respect for both the institution and the wearer.
  • Sophia Danner-Okotie (Founder, BESIDA): Besida is a crafts women’s clothing brand made from bold African print textiles and motifs. It is inspired by its West African origins where all its garments are ethically crafted in Benin City, Nigeria. Besida builds passionate connections to the homeland for black and brown women in the West who seek garments that express their cultural background and native roots. The brand’s unique sustainability approach wins over its customers as a brand to look and feel good in. The brands’ multifunctional designs promote sustainability by increasing the possibility of clothing styles and extending the service cycle of its garments. With its “No Waste” initiative, Besida transforms leftover fabric pieces into stylish hair accessories.
  • Melissa A. Mitchell (Founder, ABEILLE CREATIONS): Abeille Creations (ABL) is a wearable art & custom design house that offers fashion apparel, athleisure gear, home décor, and fine art. ABL’s ideal audience are those who live life to the fullest and don’t mind standing out in the crowd. The core values are innovation, inclusion, individuality, and inspiration. Every piece that comes from ABL radiates an undeniable light that shifts the brand from just art and apparel to empowerment and (positive) energy transfer.
  • Paakow Essandoh (Founder, MIZIZI): MIZIZI, meaning “roots” in Swahili, is the official athleisure brand for the African Diaspora. Founded in 2015, it began as a reminder that taking pride in one’s roots is an integral part of self-actualization and has since transformed into a global movement inspired by various cultures revolving around black heritage. MIZIZI’s sport jersey collections have always been designed with the values: connection, celebration, and representation, in mind. Forever and always, the goal is to #StayRooted.
  • Sylvester Ndhlovu (Founder, RUVAAFRICWEAR): RuvaAfricWear is a lifestyle brand that celebrates The Culture through everyday functional clothing. RuvaAfricWear is changing the narrative by rejecting Eurocentric fashion standards and empowering people to wear a brand that celebrates them, and clothes that have an intrinsic value.
  • Valerie Blaise (Founder, VAVVOUNE): Vavvoune is a fashion brand focused on bags and leather goods. Inspired by moods, culture, and moments of nostalgia, all our products are designed and produced in New York City. We create passionately made leather accessories while hinting spunk and individuality. We aim to introduce a new tier of luxury, not defined by price points but by experience and intentionality. Our vision is to diversify the market and evolve every season.
  • Jelisa Smith (Founder, House Of Fleek): House of Fleek offers ready-to-wear and made-to-order high fashion women’s apparel. that offers bold and trendy one-of-a-kind fashions. One of our proudest accomplishments is our commitment to size inclusivity, offering up to size 3X.

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