NewsBlack History Month

Black Detroit designers leaving their mark on the global fashion industry

Posted at 7:33 AM, Feb 15, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-15 08:09:37-05

(WXYZ) — Our recognition of Black History Month continues with a look at the creative contributions of African Americans to the world of fashion.

In recent years, Black designers have seen their influence in the industry grow. That includes trends launched by fashion-forward Detroiters.

Tracy Reese, the founder of Hope for Flowers, is one of those people. She gave us an exclusive look inside Hope for Flowers' new collection, scheduled to grace the shelves at Saks Fifth Avenue in New York City.

Reese's resume for exceeds the Big Apple. Her designs have been draped on the likes of former First Lady Michelle Obama, actress Sarah Jessica Parker, superstar Taylor Swift and countless others.

"How do you want women to feel when they wear your designs?" I asked her.

"Beautiful, confident," she said.

Reese was born and raised on Detroit's west side. She fell in love with fashion early, and credits Cass Tech High School with feeding her passion through art and design classes.

"My mom always wanted us to look our best and be on our best behavior, she didn't want us to be discriminated against because of how we looked or how we behaved," Reese said.

Chuck Bennet has had his finger on the pulse of the fashion scene in Detroit for decades. This new era, he said, ushers in high-end luxury brands looking to manufacture and build int he city.

"There is an organization called Detroit Fashion Community, this just started and it's a group of fashionistas who have gotten together and they really want to elevate fashion in Detroit," Bennet said.

Quandell Wright is connected to the DFC and is the owner of William Palmer Homme, a luxury street-wear brand that is worn by the likes of Chris Brown and Kevin Hart, but his uniquely designed handbags are what sent him over the edge.

"The first batch sold out, I want to say in 30 minutes, 30-45 minutes," Wright said.

Browing up around people wearing furs, gators and Cartier Buffs, Wright said his designs are inspired by Detroit's desire to stand out.

"We do grind hard, we do dress the best, you know we want to be seen," he said.

Reese also wants her efforts toward sustainability and community development to be seen. Her team of women designers hosted free sewing classes in Detroit and they are offering apprenticeships.

"We want Detroiters to know about these goals, we want Detroiters to play a role in saving our planet and preserving our culture," Reese said.

To learn more about Hope for Flowers and their enrichment program, click here.