A quick look at the 6 black designers nominated for the 2020 CFDA Fashion Awards

Everybody wants a Telfar on their arm. Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images
Everybody wants a Telfar on their arm. Photo by Christian Vierig/Getty Images
  • The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) is a not-for-profit trade association of America’s foremost fashion and accessory designers.
  • The Council's annual CFDA Awards, originally set for Monday June 8th, has been postponed indefinitely due to Covid-19.
  • The winners will be announced on CFDA.com on 14 September 2020, kicking off the Official New York Fashion Week Schedule.
  • The nominees were announced on Monday 20 July 2020, and in light of inclusivity and diversity conversations, we take a quick look at how many black designers are in line to receive their flowers at this year's awards. 

“In this time of unprecedented challenge and change for our industry, we feel very strongly that it is it important to recognise the nominees representing the best of fashion creativity,” CFDA Chairman Tom Ford said. “We look forward to returning to an in-person celebration honoring the American fashion industry in 2021.   


“In lieu of the in-person event, we will be prioritising new and existing programming to support our designer community during the global pandemic – by redirecting efforts towards next generation scholarships and making important changes to bring racial equity to the fashion industry,” said Steven Kolb, President and CEO of the CFDA.

“The annual gala serves as our largest fundraiser, and our hope is to continue raising money to support this work through industry contributions”.?

Nominations for each award category were submitted by 13 March 2020 as per the deadline by the CFDA Fashion Awards Guild, made up of members of the CFDA, along with top fashion retailers, journalists, and stylists. 

READ MORE: Tommy Hilfiger donates 10 000 T-shirts to coronavirus frontline healthcare workers to wear with PPE 

Before we take a look at the nominated black designers, it must be said that the fact that we're still at a point - in 2020 - where we can count on one hand the number of brown skin folk who are recognised for their stellar contributions in any industry, is getting a bit embarrassing. 

I've written before on the subject of firsts that so often, we hear of a black person or person of colour being the first of their kind to achieve something praiseworthy, yet in the greater scheme of things, it is not really that unusual. The fact that the feat is not unusual does not make it trivial, but makes one think for how long black people have not had access to the means for success. Black excellence then and the recognition thereof, is not - and should not be - an anomaly.

The tokenisation of black excellence and the "first black" sashes we drape black and POC figures in when white spaces give them a nod they've long-deserved, is a mentality of internalised (deliberate) exclusion we will perhaps need to interrogate beyond these awards. And beyond The Academy discovering black people in 2020. 

Alas, today our black designers must be celebrated and cheered on in the hope that they will claim their victories in their respective categories. 

American Womenswear Designer of the Year

No black designers nominated. 

A fun fact about this category is that Tom Ford - the chairman of the CFDA - is one of the nominees, but uhm... we won't dwell on that.

American Menswear Designer of the Year 

(Tom Ford is nominated here again.)  

Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss 

Loved, celebrated and worn by a long list of A-listers including Tracee Ellis Ross, Gabrielle Union, Lena Waithe, Megan Thee Stallion, Jhene Aiko, Snoh Aalegra, Yara Shahidi, and Issa Rae. Why he is not nominated in the womenswear category as well is a mystery we won't attempt to figure out right now. 

View this post on Instagram

Snoh Aalegra in Collection 3 for NR Magazine

A post shared by Pyer Moss (@pyermoss) on

American Accessories Designer of the Year

Telfar Clemens for Telfar

The Telfar shopping bag was listed in the top three "hottest women's products" on the 2020 Q1 Lyst Index report - a quarterly ranking of fashion's hottest brands and products. 

black CFDA nominees

Telfar's handbags have also appeared on hit TV series Insecure, where costume director Shiona Turini often weaves black designers' merchandise into her wardrobe storytelling.  

READ MORE: ANALYSIS | 2020 Lyst of hottest fashion labels released, but how fiery are they about race matters? 

American Emerging Designer of the Year  

The first category to feature more than one black or POC designer. Of course.

Christopher John Rogers   

Recently seen on Zendaya. 

Kenneth Nicholson  

"Liberating the boundaries of menswear." 

Peter Do 

Vietnam-born Peter Do, was one of the 2020 LVMH Prize finalists, who earned a split victory due to the coronavirus pandemic. Also loved by Zendaya and Celine Dion, who are both styled by Law Roach. 

View this post on Instagram

@celinedion in FW20 look 16! #Peterdo ??????

A post shared by Peter Do (@the.peterdo) on

READ MORE: In light of the coronavirus pandemic, there'll be no 2020 LVMH Prize winner 

Global Women's Designer of the Year 

No black nominees

Global Men's Designer of the Year 

Virgil Abloh for Louis Vuitton 

This is Virgil's third year at LV - his tenure began in March 2018.

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