New York, NY – On Monday, February 12, 2018, the Black Accessory Designers Alliance™ (BADA) presented the designs of several accessory designers at their bi-annual New York Fashion Week Pop Up Soirée. The event, established nearly three years ago to raise the visibility and celebrate the creativity of talented, yet undiscovered artisans of color, was held at The LGBT Center at 208 West 11 Street in the Lerner Auditorium.
The organization hopes to not just capitalize on the media presence during New York Fashion Week, but to generate excitement with communities that are not necessarily invited to some of the exclusive shows by the industry’s top designers. “This is our way to democratize this week long tradition and be more inclusive,” admits the organization’s co-founder Wilbur Pack, Jr. Velvet Lattimore, the owner of Vedazzling Accessories Boutique in DUMBO, Brooklyn and co-founder of BADA agrees, “It’s thrilling to be an agent for positive change. A majority of our participants are accessory businesses owned by women and that makes for a real sisterhood, too. With BADA and Vedazzling Accessories, I am able to introduce their work to the buying public and press.”
Ursallie Smith, the interior design dynamo behind Rococo Design Interiors and the mastermind behind Pillow Throw and Tuck™ broadened her home décor focus this season. The designer, known for her luxe use of fabrics, also presented a series of reversible outwear vests crafted out of Mongolian lamb fur that coordinated with her patented decorative pillow designs. Smith demonstrated just how closely related apparel and home décor really are. You can shop her line at Vedazzling Accessories Boutique or on the website pillowthrowandtuck.com.
Keena Driver, the designer of Urban Turban, knew she was onto something when she established her brand of “crowns” in 2016. The goddess had been complimented by women of all ages and ethnicities for her dazzling headwear and realized that beyond beauty, her crowns fostered a sense of sisterhood and love. The designer reveals that her inspiration is women, like her, who refuse to conform to society’s standards of beauty. “We are ALL queens and EVERY queen deserves a crown.” At the pop up, the designer gave techniques on how you can crown yourself using Urban Turban. Visit myurbanturban.com to get fit with your crown.
Markisha Velazquez is the designer of Junior Baby Hatter, a new American heritage brand that specializes in handcrafting Tiny Caps for Tiny Chaps. Markisha’s collection of vintage inspired caps makes classic style easy and accessible to the modern family. Since launching in 2014, Junior Baby Hatter’s signature matching father & son hat sets have appeared on: Humans of New York “Today in Microfashion”, “Baby Must-Haves” on Mornings on FOX 58, and have been featured multiple times in Little Hoboken Blog. Markisha has also been featured in Forbes and guest blogs on Maker’s Row where she shares her secrets to other fashion startups of how to maximize brand exposure on a small budget. Find the perfect accessory for a little gentleman’s wardrobe at juniorbabyhatter.us.
With her eponymous line of covetable hats, Lisa McFadden’s mission is to offer dimensions of custom craftsmanship to the fashion ready to wear environment. Ms. McFadden’s millinery confections and capsule collections fuse vintage inspiration perfectly with contemporary style creating hats that will compliment your individuality. Namely, her popular and versatile “CRUSH” styles proved to be of great interest to attendees of the Pop Up Soirée who were drawn to the colorful display of textures and silhouettes. For more, visit her website or contact her at lisamcfadden.com.
N’tasha is the newest goddess in a group of first name only powerful women, like Beyoncé and Cher, using her creativity to bring joy and beauty to the world. Her handcrafted jewelry line, House of Kaluaah, is comprised of bold earrings and necklaces the designer describes as “extravagantly gaudy, futuristic, and urban unique”. With her cascading white mane like the Marvel Comics® heroine, Storm, this New Jersey native is a force to be reckoned with. N’tasha’s design mantra is, “Be unique, be you, and you shall outshine the rest.” Her fantastic African and Middle Eastern motifs, metallics, and bright colors were an attention grabber. You can visit her company’s website 7wondersofeleven. bigcartel.com to shop more of her singular styles.
Kay Makishi is the mastermind behind Little Bamboo Dress, an innovative, ecologically friendly system of dressing. LBD is comprised of timeless, functional, chic dresses that convert into bags. Now ladies who are always on the go can toss their “Bamboo Bundles” into a suitcase or gym bag as they make their way through the day’s experiences. And with a quick transition, the Little Bamboo Dress becomes the Little Bamboo Bag. All pieces are made out of bamboo fabric – super soft to the touch, comfortable fit for any body type, lightweight, and odor and wrinkle resistant. It’s a new day and “Bamboo is the New Black”. By the way, the Little Bamboo Dress is available in black, too. Visit the website at littlebamboodress.com to see more.
André Pierre’s passion for design was ignited at an early age when his maternal grandmother taught him his first stitch on fabric swatches. With determination and a focus on his studies at the New York Interior Design School and Atlanta Metropolitan Technical College, André soon became a sought after set decorator with over 75 Hollywood films to his credit including The Hunger Games series, Selma, and Baby Driver. André’s work can also be seen on the OWN cable series Greenleaf and several commercials for Samsung. Twelve years ago, this interior design dynamo established A Pierre Design, LLC decorating dozens of model homes and creating sought after home accessories. This season the designer evolved his brand of luxurious wine bags to include a bold black and white print. It was all glam gorgeousness that appeals to the serious wine drinker and the discerning gift giver. To see more about André, please visit his website apierredesign.com.
Over half a decade ago, Velvet Lattimore made a decision to have a baby. She was tired of nurturing other people’s fashion dreams and gave birth to her own. She named her baby Vedazzling Accessories Boutique and it’s become the destination place for interesting and captivating pieces. Located at 145 Front Street in the heart of DUMBO, Brooklyn, Vedazzling Accessories is also a retail platform for emerging accessory designers of color. “This industry is cut throat and it is especially hard on African Americans who are typically undercapitalized and have difficulty securing orders from mainstream retailers,” admits Velvet. So, to some degree, she still nurtures other peoples’ dreams, but now she simultaneously nurtures hers, too. Part cheerleader and part den mother, Velvet’s style is to guide the designers she carries so that they achieve a greater sell-through. She has also recently opened the boutique as a Pop-Up Shop venue which allows designers to get first hand feedback from customers.
In 2015, Velvet co-founded the membership organization Black Accessory Designers Alliance, Inc., or BADA for short, to elevate the profiles of emerging accessory designers of color. She helped develop the New York Fashion Week Pop Up initiative where traditional media, bloggers, fashion influencers, and the public are invited to meet, shop, and mingle with a select group of designers in an effort to introduce the work of under-the-radar design talent to a broad spectrum of people. The organization is also involved in community outreach and partners with NYC area public schools for student internships and mentoring. To help solidify networking opportunities and build relationships which are so important to emerging accessory designers of color, BADA hosts a handful of panel discussions throughout the year. You can also shop the store’s offerings at vedazzlingaccessories. com
Fashion design veteran and BADA co-founder, Wilbur Pack, Jr., began his journey in 1998 when he introduced SK WiLBUR, a contemporary line of clothes for the working woman. In 2013, after being consistently asked by curvy women to offer his elegant designs in larger sizes, Pack set his sights on creating better wardrobe options for the full figured fashionista. He is now winning over both men and women with his line of handcrafted bags made in NYC. Classic shapes comprise the collection. Rendered in leather, suede, and natural fabrics, the tote bag, backpack, messenger, and cross body styles are sold in small shops around New York City and on the designer’s website www.skwilbur.com. The designer presented his collection titled “Insta BAG Story” at this season’s Pop Up Soirée. Inspired by Instagram with bag design as his canvas, he used affirming hashtags to empower and invoke positivity during this turbulent and divisive moment in history. One design dubbed “The Hashtag Bag” embroidered with popular social justice hashtags is already being sold exclusively on his website with 15% of the proceeds being donated to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union).
Pack’s work has received numerous accolades. He was chosen by Supima Cotton as one of the select participants in their 2008 Runway Challenge and received much fanfare for his contributed piece, an elegantly constructed denim evening gown. The designer counts R&B music legend Patti LaBelle and actress/entertainer Lonette McKee as clients. Pack created a custom beauty bag for Taraji P. Henson, the actress who portrays Cookie Lyon on the hit FOX TV series “Empire”. Most recently Oscar© nominated actress Gabourey Sidibe carried one of his bags for the 2017 NAACP Image Awards. He has been profiled for fashion trade publications such as WWD, featured on E! Entertainment Television’s Fashion File and his unique approach to showing during New York Fashion Week has been the subject of many articles in several daily newspapers and web sites across the country, including The Los Angeles Times, essence.com, and NYPost.com. Pack was profiled for JET magazine and was photographed for the October 2015 issue of Ebony magazine. For the 2015 Emmy Awards, Pack was commissioned to create a special, one-of-a-kind evening clutch carried for the red carpet. He was also a featured competitor on the fashion design reality series 24 Hour Catwalk that aired on Lifetime.
Black Accessory Designers Alliance, established in 2015, addresses a crippling divide in the fashion industry caused by a lack of meaningful opportunities for minority designers. We seek to elevate and increase the visibility of accessory businesses owned by designers of color by increasing opportunities for them to network with industry leaders and others. Our five main initiatives are:
- The Bi-Annual New York Fashion Week Pop-Up Soiree
During NY Fashion Week, we present the work of emerging and established accessory designers of color and invite fashion industry leaders, traditional press, bloggers, and the public to become acquainted with them and their designs. The event and participating designers have been featured in respected publications, both online and print.
- Panel Discussions and Networking Mixers
We host panel discussions and mixers throughout the year featuring up-and-coming designers and trailblazers who promote community development, collaboration, and cultivate networking opportunities. Handbag designer Monica Botkier, vintage style guru Jonathan Bodrick, celebrity wardrobe stylist Wouri Vice, and many others who are well-regarded in fashion have participated.
- Internships and Mentoring
Because of the importance of demonstrating to young designers the viability of their art as a career, we offer internships to NYC-area high school and college students. We have fostered relationships with the High School of Fashion Industries, Harvey Milk School, Harlem School of the Arts, and Henry Street Settlement.
- The Database of Accessory Designers of Color
As members of the community we serve, we often hear from potential consumers that they don’t know how to find products by designers of color. We are creating an online directory of designers in all accessory disciplines—including bags, contemporary jewelry, and millinery—that will be featured on our website badaunite.org.
- The Store & E-Commerce Site
Items created by participating designers are sold at Vedazzling Accessories Boutique and on vedazzlingaccessories. com.