Belmont University Research Symposium (BURS)

Publication Date

Spring 3-28-2023


O'More College of Architecture and Design


Fashion Design and Merchandising

BURS Faculty Advisor

Priscilla Gitimu

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation


This was an exploration of how African American Designers, former and current have contributed to fashion legacies. Key points that will be presented will be – brief biographies of seven African American designers, that covers their upbringing, education, and their fashion legacies. The seven fashion designers that will be discussed include - Patrick Kelly, Willie Smith, Anna Lowe, Stephine Burrows, Laquan Smith, Dapper Dan, and Zelda Wynn Valdes.

The study further features fashion trends that originated from the African American community. Notably, African Americans have been a pioneering force with creative styles that have been ignored and rebutted. Finally, the study includes a discussion on how the fashion industry can be intentional to recognize, acknowledge and bringing awareness about contribution and legacies of African American designers. Such a change in the fashion world encourage more inclusivity for people of color in fashion textbooks, fashion curriculum, fashion magazines, fashion models, fashion CEOs, and media. The fashion industry has opportunity and can serve as a great platform to celebrate and acknowledge the legacy of African American contributions to fashion.