The Black In Fashion Council Discovery Showroom Continues To Be The Best Part Of NYFW

Bella Gerard
The Black In Fashion Council Discovery Showroom Continues To Be The Best Part Of NYFW
Photo: Courtesy of Megan Renee.

Somewhere between the rise of TikTok influencers and the fall of print magazines, the magic of modern-day Fashion Week got a little bit lost. It became less about discovering new designers, appreciating meticulous handiwork and gathering inspiration, and more about playing dress up with your friends in hopes of a street style moment outside Spring Studios. But if there’s any group still doing Fashion Week right, my money’s on the Black in Fashion Council every time.

Every season since September 2020, the Black in Fashion Council—a powerful and passionate group of editors, models, stylists, and creatives founded by Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles—and IMG bless the fashion set with the Black in Fashion Council Discovery Showroom, an opportunity for smaller Black-owned brands to take up space in the oversaturated throes of New York City’s fashion landscape.

If you’re a fan of brands like Theophilio and APOTTS, you may have the Discovery Showroom to thank for bringing them to your attention. This season, the showroom was held from February 12-16, and highlighted the following designers: Ashya, CISE, Dur Doux, Eugene Taylor Brand, Justin Wesley, Keama, Lavie by CK, Megan Renee, Ndigo Studio and Salone Monet.

STYLECASTER | Black In Fashion Council Discovery Showroom

Courtesy of Dur Doux.

Some designers, like mother-daughter design duo Cynthia and Najla A. Burt of Dur Doux, also held shows during Fashion Week, but for many of the present company, the showroom was their big chance to connect with potential buyers, editors and stylists. It’s an incredible opportunity—and of course, one that’s well-deserved.

“It means a lot, especially being a Black woman,” shares Claude Kameni, a showroom first-timer who is currently rebranding Lavie by CK to be an eponymous brand. “We don’t really get looked at. We have to work ten times harder than anybody, so it’s really an amazing experience for them to even have me here.” She credits her PR team at Cabine Creative  for helping her connect with the Black in Fashion Council.

Kameni’s colorful collection is as wearable as it is beautiful, decked out in vibrant patterns that speak to her heritage. “This collection is inspired by my culture and Cameroon, where I’m from,” Kameni tells STYLECASTER.

“In Cameroon, the fabrics are actually wax, so they have no stretch to them and they’re uncomfortable,” she says. “So, I decided to create all my prints on silks, jersey, mostly comfortable fabrics that anybody would wear.”

STYLECASTER | Black In Fashion Council Discovery Showroom

Courtesy of Claude Kameni.

Perhaps I’m biased to say that my favorite designer making her debut at the Discovery Showroom is Salone Monet—but I think I’d be obsessing over her footwear even if I didn’t know her personally as a shining example of a kind, creative and dedicated businesswoman. Monet’s eponymous brand of color-inclusive nude shoes has been seen on the likes of Beyonce Knowles and Gabrielle Union, and currently sells in Bloomingdale’s.

It’s Monet’s first time participating in the showroom, and as a footwear designer, she couldn’t be more pleased with the setup. “There’s not really a lot of media attention given to the accessory brands during Fashion Week, so to be in a showroom, this really is the most ideal way to show my collection,” she says.

“I’ve partnered with fashion brands in the past, supporting them and offering shoewear for a show, but oftentimes the shoes get overlooked,” she explains. “They’re not included in any of the media attention, so it ends up not being that great of a partnership.”

But here in the Discovery Showroom, showing off an array of inclusive nude heels and a brand-new flat mule, Monet is in good company. “These are the brands that want it,” she says. “We aren’t resting on any laurels, we aren’t here every season. This is like make it or break it.”

STYLECASTER | Black In Fashion Council Discovery Showroom

Courtesy of Salone Monet.

For some designers, the Discovery Showroom is an incredible starting point—and for others, it’s an opportunity to take stock of all they’ve accomplished since last season and reconnect with the fashion set. I was delighted to see designer Letesha Renee of Eugene Taylor Brand return to the space, with her latest annual collection designed in tribute to Diana Ross.

“I enjoy being at the showrooms a little bit more because people get to actually touch and see my clothes and I get to really talk about the collection,” says Renee. I feel like the shows and stuff, it’s more about the clout and all of that, so I do like the showrooms because I feel like I have more personable conversations with people. I’m able to create better connections versus me having a show and not actually meeting or talking or shaking hands with people.”

When asked whether or not she felt last season’s appearance at the showroom impacted her brand positively, Renee confirmed it was worth the trip from Chicago, where she and the brand are currently based. “Since this is my second trip, I definitely saw a return last time with articles, reaching different media outlets that I wouldn’t have been able to reach before,” she says. “There’s a lot of before-press and after-press, so I feel like it definitely helps me reaching bigger audiences and more people in general.”

STYLECASTER | Black In Fashion Council Discovery Showroom

Courtesy of Eugene Taylor Brand.

Don’t get me wrong, you’ll certainly still find me expensing Ubers to Brooklyn to see offsite presentations, and waiting in line outside Gotham Hall for extravagant runway shows. But when it comes to the very best part of fashion week—discovering new designers, checking out incredible pieces and having real one-on-one conversations about the industry—the Discovery Showroom is the ultimate place to be. And if history repeats itself, the lineup next season is guaranteed to be even better.

StyleCaster newsletter