allen onyia by PAGE Magazine March 19, 2021
Macy’s announced plans to celebrate Black excellence in fashion by doing a collaborative aptly titled, “Icons of Style.” The 160-year retailer announced in October that it has teamed up with Black-American creatives found within the seams of the robust fashion industry.
“We are excited to work with these tremendous talents to bring truly exclusive, one-of-a-kind collections to our fashion-devoted customers.”Durand Guion, Macy’s Fashion Office Vice President
And, as we move into the next decade, Macy’s is broadening the visibility of Black talent in the fashion industry. Thus, it will be working through 2021 with three drops of collections.
Exclusive, limited-edition seasonal collections are releasing throughout the 2021 calendar year. And, Macy’s has enlisted several brands from their roster to partake.
Pieces designed by fashion influencers like Zerina Akers (founder of
Plus, Alaskan-born Aminah Abdul Jillil, whose dance background has led her into shoe design for women, creating I.N.C. footwear.
Additionally, Allen Onyia, the style-guide behind social media account UpscaleHype, designing menswear for I.N.C. International Concepts.
And, founder of Brooklyn Circus,
These designers and stylists all have considerably taken the long way to success, in their own right. Especially so for Zerina Akers, Beyonce’s costume designer.
And, not to mention, the man who came into his lane in fashion proclaiming his “100-year plan,” Ouigi Theodore. Both have exemplified what it takes for Black designers to break the barriers and have a specific channel that speaks to their audience and community.
Maryland-raised, LA-based stylist Zerina Akers is surely an icon of style. In fact, she is a costume designer who most notably designed costume pieces and wardrobe for Beyonce Knowles-Carter. Most notably, her visual album inspired by the Lion King called “Black Is King.”
Akers has also crafted pieces for celebrity entertainers like Chloe X Halle. Plus, she has launched the platform Black-Owned Everything, categorizing Black-owned businesses in fashion, arts, homeware, and beauty.
Akers came from W magazine as an intern. She describes her experience as “nurturing relationships, exploring the industry, and finding a place.” Yet, remembers being “often the only Black girl.”
For Akers, Macy’s was a central point for a coming of age in fashion. She recalls her school shopping experience as a big deal, chaperoned by her grandmother.
Thus, it was a full-circle moment for Akers when she was given an opportunity at one of her first assistant styling gigs for Macy’s catalog.
Moreover, Akers is inspired by her love for androgynous styling as seen in her Bar III collaborative designs. With Minimal silhouettes accented by sleek and edgy tailoring and an earth-toned/pastel color palette.
So, it is this contrast that helps identify Akers’ story, as well as her style which she describes as “twisted basics.”
Coming from accepting a “lesser salary” and being “paid in clothes,” Akers remembers gaining access to luxury collections at the end of the 2010s. A time she recalls as “very elitist and intangible.”
Zerina Akers continues to make strides in fashion and remain visible for the Black community while also becoming one icon of style.
Theodore has implemented his heritage and newly minted approach to life within his designs. The BKc varsity aesthetic – the nostalgia of education institutions – has been a cornerstone for design. And currently, Theodore is focused on stitching his Haitian lineage into each garment.
He is all about heritage.
Just like Akers, Theodore remembers his early trips to Macy’s. Specifically, entering the urban fashion section for brands like Rocawear and Sean John. Thus, he coupled his taste for urban with the New York City staple of Ralph Lauren, often not too far from the more streetwear-focused tables of garments.
Theodore found his way into fashion through his attraction for footwear and clothing as a “Brooklyn 90s kid.” His Haitian upbringing in New York he describes helped him “tap into his roots.” And, he was also inspired by his mother who was an international fashion buyer, and an aunt who worked as a tailor.
Taking notes, Theodore is now 18 years in the fashion industry, finding 15 years of success with BKc. The designer infuses the influences of his aunt while paying homage to his mom with the Sun+Stone collection.
For example, 1945 printed onto his pieces symbolizes his mother’s presence. She was born just after World War II and passed away in 1990.
Indeed, heritage and lineage make up the Black narrative and draws in the masses to the culture.
With “Icons of Style,” Macy’s wants to lead the change to the ‘must-see’ sport of fashion. Thus, they are allowing others to see how Black creatives can create and maintain their culture.
“We committed to bringing more diverse-owned brands and design talent into our assortment.”Durand Guion, Macy’s Fashion Office Vice President
Guion goes on to state, “we know having a supplier base that reflects our diverse customers offers shoppers a more robust experience, allowing us to expand the breadth and uniqueness of our merchandise while nurturing diverse talent in our industry.”
The collections will be available on Macys.com and available at select locations nationwide starting March 29.