The Edit

Armando Cabral

Masterful Men’s Footwear Marrying
Comfort & Style

Born in Guinea-Bissau and raised in Portugal, designer Armando Cabral got his start in the fashion industry as a model—while simultaneously earning his degree in business administration. Cabral developed a passion for shoes and a deep knowledge of luxury fashion, which led him to start his namesake label of comfortable, bespoke footwear in 2009.

How do you hope to push boundaries in the fashion industry?
"We're already pushing the boundaries of the industry with our Pan-African influences, and signature mix of African fabrics and crafts with bespoke European constructions. Our goal is to push and own the African influence of what has traditionally been known as 'classic fashion' to achieve something new and fresh each season."

How do you want customers to feel while wearing your pieces?
"We want our customers to feel a sense of individuality and comfort when they wear our pieces. We're rooted in men's footwear, so the aspect of versatility and long wear is at the core of everything we do. The artistic vision is what really shows on the outside, but we take great pride and steps to ensure that everything we create is of the highest quality, so you can (literally) live in it."

What have been the most gratifying moments in your career?
"For me, there have been many gratifying moments—the most recent being the opening of our NYC flagship store in Rockefeller Center. We have a highly regarded presence online, and the physical space allows us to tell the story of the brand in a more tactile way. Customers can experience the brand firsthand."

What advice would you give to other designers who are just starting out?
"I would advise up-and-coming designers to always stay true to their vision and to never (and I mean never, ever) give up. There will always be headwinds when you set out to start your own brand. It's important to see these challenges for what they are, and not let a few roadblocks or difficult situations push you to give up."

What inspires the range of materials you use in your shoe designs?
"My inspirations come directly from what I observe and interpret from the art and culture around me. My heritage, my experiences and my travels all have an impact on what I'll create next."

What made you decide to start designing luxury footwear?
"Funny enough, it was my modeling career itself that influenced my decision to start my own brand. While I was walking all these shows for world-class brands, the shoes always looked amazing, but they were so uncomfortable. I set out to create a line of men's footwear that looked great, but also stood up to a busy life with comfort. During the pandemic and while in lockdown, I had time to sit and read, and I really enjoyed learning more about my own African heritage. It was here that I had that catalyst to mix my experiences, heritage and outside artistic influences with the comfort and bespoke craftsmanship of handmade Italian shoes."

Top left: Founder & Designer Armando Cabral, He/Him

Top left: Founder & Designer Áwet Woldegebriel, He/Him


Meaningful Pieces Tailored to the Everyday

Áwet is an ode to designer Áwet Woldegebriel’s—and his father’s—personal stories. His father, an Eritrean tailor, lived between the war-torn countries of Eritrea and Ethiopia for 30 years, while Áwet was forced to flee his native Eritrea in 1998, and was granted asylum to the U.S. in 2000. In 2020, Áwet launched his eponymous label with commitments to creating iconic ultra-wearable collections, and to employ and support his local NYC garment workers hardest hit by the pandemic. It’s only fitting that his name—and his brand—means "victory" in Tigrinya.

How did you come up with the term "livewear" and what does it mean to you?
“Livewear represents pieces of clothing that you simply can't live without and can't wait to get back into once you've taken them off. Over the last three years, our brand has grown to offer a complete ready-to-wear collection for both men and women. Our commitment to livewear remains strong, as we continue to provide luxurious, essential pieces that enhance our customers' everyday lives.”

How do you want customers to feel while wearing your pieces?
“The goal is to ensure that customers feel the power within themselves when they wear our pieces. Our designs enhance our customers' wardrobe to allow them to take on the world. We create pieces that shine the greatness within you.”

What factors are the most important to you in terms of building your brand?
“At the heart of our business is our dedication to community. We begin by prioritizing our community's needs and preferences, and then craft our product and brand accordingly. Our design philosophy centers around soft tailoring, an art form that emphasizes comfortable, easy-to-wear pieces.”

How do you hope to push boundaries in the fashion industry?
“What we truly need is a way to form deeper connections with each other through our shared values. I'm deeply committed to building a brand that prioritizes community and reflects the rich diversity of our customers. I hope that our brand serves as a bridge for deeper consenting and understanding amongst people. Fashion has the power to unite people and create a sense of belonging, and I want to tap into that power as a brand.”

Can you tell us more about your mission to support and employ garment workers hit hardest by the pandemic?
“When I started the brand in summer 2020, New York City garment workers needed someone on their side. None of the fashion houses were doing new collections. They couldn’t—there were no buyers. Factories in Manhattan’s Garment District were just shutting down and letting go of people. I thought a lot about something my father used to say: ‘Look out for people with greatness in their hands.’ He meant people like those patternmakers or embroiderers. That led me to develop my first collection titled A Promise to New York, which supported a family-run garment business, donating 100% of proceeds for the first year to them. Now that the garment industry has weathered the pandemic, we've shifted our focus to other communities near and dear to our heart, including refugees and supporting Black-owned businesses.”

Bernard James

Timeless Works of Art Handmade in NYC

Bernard James’ jewelry collection reflects his love for his hometown, Brooklyn. With an emphasis on quality and craftsmanship, each modern piece is made by hand in New York City. What originally started as a men’s line in 2010 has evolved into a unisex brand of classic-yet-conceptual fine metal and leather jewelry.

How do you hope to push boundaries in the jewelry industry?
“The jewelry industry is such a fascinating industry with a rich history. However, with that history comes antiquated systems and ideas that have yet to be challenged. Every activation for the brand is born out of the idea of studying longstanding practices and evaluating how they can be modernized.”

What first drew you to using diamonds as part of your jewelry designs?
“I have always been attracted to materials with a rich history and undeniable quality. While I have mostly used diamonds as just an accent in the collection’s gold-forward pieces, this year I worked with the Natural Diamond Council to create a collection inspired by the use of diamonds. It has been a journey diving into the world of natural stones (how they are formed, sourced and manipulated), and I look forward to continuing the journey as I grow as a designer.”

Why is it important to you to bring a signature handmade touch to your pieces?
“Jewelry with a story has a purpose. It becomes a dialogue between the designer, craftsman and the wearer—a memento or a daily reminder. It can live with us and enhance our quality of life not just through aesthetics, but also through significance.”

How do you want customers to feel while wearing your pieces?
“Above all, I want people to feel like their true selves when wearing one of our pieces. That is actually why the brand’s logo is a mirror. I think it’s fascinating how, similar to music, the same piece of jewelry can mean many different things to different people. I want people to feel like individuals but also like part of a community when they wear Bernard James.”

What have been the most gratifying moments in your career?
“I approach every day with gratitude. Being able to build this brand, while challenging, is rewarding as it’s something I’ve dreamed of since I was a young teen. Whether it’s moments like opening a fully designed temporary retail space in Soho, launching with Saks or seeing Brad Pitt in one of my favorite rings on the cover of GQ, I try to take time to appreciate the moments that establish the foundation for the future.”

Top left: Founder & Designer Bernard James, He/Him

Top left: Founder & Designer Fisayo Che, She/Her


Joyful Designs Supporting Nigerian Artisans

Celebrating her native Nigeria, Fisayo Che founded Elisamama with two main goals in mind: that fashion should do good, and that women shouldn’t have to sacrifice comfort for style. Each of the label’s vibrant, easy-to-wear styles is handcrafted by artisans in Nigeria using locally sourced fabrics, and utilizing traditional printing and dyeing techniques.

How do you choose each print and do they each hold a different significance for you?
“African-inspired prints are intrinsically vibrant, bold and colorful. The patterns we choose, however, are driven by our brand and design ethos: African-inspired fashion with a contemporary twist. We aim to seamlessly blend African aesthetics with modern styles, creating garments that promote joy, style and ease of wear. We look for prints that not only showcase the vibrancy and boldness associated with African-inspired prints, but also harmonize with contemporary fashion trends.”

How do you hope to push boundaries in the fashion industry?
“We strive to push the boundaries of design by infusing African-inspired elements with contemporary aesthetics to create garments that are accessible to a global community. Through our work, we aim to showcase the exceptional skills and capabilities of African artisans, proving that Africa has the potential to be a global leader in the fashion industry.”

Can you tell us more about how your designs support Nigerian artisans?
“Through our work, we’re able to create a comprehensive support system for our artisans, focusing on young women who often get trapped in the gap between high school and formal employment. We provide our staff with training and employment, fostering an environment where they can shape their lives and pursue their personal goals. We provide community and holistic support, prioritizing the provision of fair wages, access to accommodations, regular meals and safe working conditions. This work allows us to create an environment that nurtures and empowers our team members, ensuring that they have the means to thrive and succeed beyond their time at Elisamama.”

What factors are the most important to you in terms of building your brand?
“Social sustainability is the utmost priority, as we strive to maximize a positive impact for our artisans and their local communities. Ethical production practices and a people-centric approach are not merely aspirations, but the baseline goals we hold ourselves accountable to. Although social sustainability is our north star, our production processes are inherently environmentally sustainable. Through our farm-to-fashion model that prioritizes locally grown cotton and other materials, we’re able to nurture local economies while being kinder to our environment.”

How do you want customers to feel while wearing your pieces?
“Our garments are in many ways a statement about the wearer—they showcase joy, confidence and strength. We hope our customers also feel these emotions when wearing our pieces. We want them to feel pride and a connection to the craftsmanship, stories and the heart that goes into our creations. Most important, we want our customers to feel like a part of our community and a contributor to our mission of purposeful fashion.”

What advice would you give to other designers who are just starting out?
“Regardless of where you are in your journey, being a good person and authentically treating people well will help you go further than skill alone can. As the saying goes, people will always remember how you treat them over what you do—always remember that those same people will often get the opportunity to advocate for you in rooms you cannot be in. In addition, seek to build a community. Entrepreneurship can be very lonely and isolating, so having the support of your tribe will serve you well when things get tough.”


Emotive Clothing With a Futuristic Edge

Longtime friends and Interior’s co-founders, Jack Miner and Lily Miesmer, started their label in 2020 with the goal of creating pieces that balance the unique elements of sportswear and eveningwear. The duo takes luxurious fabrics and classic designs and transforms them into irreverent clothing meant to be worn every day. The collection has quickly become a favorite among It girls and celebrities alike.

How do you hope to push boundaries in the fashion industry?
“By making intuitive clothing that women are instantly drawn to but can't pinpoint why.”

How do you find the right balance between functionality and avant-garde, emotive design elements?
“There's no point in making something extremely cool if it's also extremely unwearable. Clothing is meant to be against the body, it should always feel good to put on.”

What have been the most gratifying moments in your career?
“Seeing the clothes out in the wild.”

What factors are the most important to you in terms of building your brand?
“We're really dedicated to making things that you can't find anywhere else.”

In another interview, you noted, "There's always something a little wrong with everything we make." Can you tell us more about that and do you each have a personal favorite "wrong" example?
“Our personal favorites have been our signature deconstructed suits, as well as our chiffon blouses with raw hems and provocative mini dresses you can eat dinner in.”

What advice would you give to other designers who are just starting out?
“Shoot your shot.”

Top left: Co-Founders & Designers Jack Miner, He/Him, and Lily Miesmer, She/Her

Top left: Founder & Designer Shawn Pean, He/Him


European Sophistication With a Brooklyn Attitude

Chief Architect and Creative Director Shawn Pean spent over 10 years climbing the corporate ladder in the fashion industry—including helming and transforming the men’s footwear department at Saks—before starting a line of his own in 2021. Merging the spirit of his native Brooklyn with the quality and craftsmanship European fashion is known for, his menswear collection is rife with tailored, easy-to-wear pieces.

Can you tell us more about your extensive experience in the industry and what inspired you to start your own label?
“My experience in fashion started on the business side. My first role was a buyer, and after 15 years of being on the buying side, I joined Valentino as the VP of Wholesale. After a few years, I was appointed the president and managing director of Balmain in the U.S. After having all of these experiences, I decided it was time to start and build a clothing brand for tomorrow. I was inspired by my brother, who continuously encouraged me to start my own brand, and while I debated whether I should move forward or not, it was his voice that inspired me to start June79.”

How do you hope to push boundaries in the fashion industry?
“We’re defining a new space in tailored clothing called 'tailored-casual.' Our modern approach, [taking] the professionalism of tailored clothing and blending it with the casualization of society, is the right amount needed to push the boundaries. It’s what we call the balance of a revolution and evolution.”

What aspects of your designs do you feel best showcase your blend of European sophistication and a Brooklyn attitude?
“Our blazers are key items in our assortment, where June79’s designs intersect European sophistication and inner-city swagger. Marrying Italian fabrics, American craftsmanship and a modern approach to design makes our garments stand out and change the way people show up to the moments that matter.”

What factors are the most important to you in terms of building your brand?
“It’s important for us to build an inclusive brand that has a positive impact on our environment. Our goal is to allocate a percentage of our business to deadstock fabrics and apply them to our seasonal assortment.”

What have been the most gratifying moments in your career?
“The most gratifying moments have been seeing celebrities, athletes and everyday people wearing June79. There are so many choices in fashion, and when people continue to choose a brand that they are not familiar with, but feel good about, it’s a special moment to me.”


Inspired Streetwear Championinga Brighter Future

Founder and designer John Dean III launched his label as a means to tell relatable stories of following a dream—from the hurdles to the successes. Known for unique patterns and eye-catching graphic designs, Dean aims to instill hope and celebrate Black culture through his pieces.

How do you hope to push boundaries in the fashion industry?
“I would love to be a part of helping Black fashion designers and creatives know that it is possible. Meaning that being in the top retail locations and getting the recognition (and money) you deserve from your work is possible. A side mission is to really revolutionize the streetwear category with new and refreshing silhouettes.”

How do your designs connect with or inspire the idealist inside all of us?
“Our one-liner is, ‘Renowned exists to illustrate the duality of the American Dream.’ We all have dreams and desires, but how do we get there? I made my brand living proof of the concept of dreaming. I took one T-shirt that I used to sell out of my trunk for $10 and now I'm in Saks!”

Can you tell us more about how your collections illustrate the duality of the American Dream?
“Typically our collections illustrate that in the messaging behind the collections and the garments themselves. We have a central theme that's broken into ‘The Dream’ and ‘The Obstacle.’ An example would be how great a place 'Black Wall Street' was, but also how terribly it was destroyed. Designing a full spectrum of a theme offers a realistic view of reaching your dreams.”

What factors are the most important to you in terms of building your brand?
“The most important factors I consider with my brand are authenticity, purpose and culture. We want to make sure everything we create involves these three pillars. Putting on for my culture is the most meaningful thing I can do through my art. We built our brand to stand the test of time, so we believe this is possible through authenticity and being true to [the] self.”

What advice would you give to other designers who are just starting out?
“I would tell young designers to cut out all the noise and be true to themselves. Not just in terms of style, but also what these clothes will mean to other people. Take it a day at a time and don’t rush your process. This is your time to shine, so make the most of it and release designs that make you extremely proud regardless of public perception.”

Top left: Founder & Designer John Dean III, He/Him

Top left: Co-Founders & Designers Kim Carosella, She/Her, and Nicole Carosella, She/Her


Vintage-Inspired Jewelry With a Modern Twist

Drawn to the Victorian and Art Deco eras, sisters and founders Kim and Nicole Carosella use mixed-shape and carved stones to create fine jewelry that brings a harmonious juxtaposition of vintage and modern, and bold and delicate lines.

What is your process for choosing the stones and materials in your jewelry?
“The choice to work with 18K yellow gold was very easy because of its rich hue. As for stones, we choose the ones that resonate with us. We both love the muted color palette of spinels and the vibrancy of sapphires. Emeralds have become a favorite of ours as well.”

How do you hope to push boundaries in the fashion industry?
“We’re hoping to push the boundaries with color and carved stone in fine jewelry. Many people feel most comfortable with well-known materials such as gold, platinum and diamonds. We want to teach our customers how to incorporate color in a way that’s both fun and comfortable.”

How does your relationship as sisters influence your designs?
“We are so similar and yet so different; it allows us to understand all the ways our clients will wear our jewelry.”

What have been the most gratifying moments in your career?
“Building our team! For years, it was just the two of us and now we look around at our co-workers and are so proud to work with such incredible people.”

What advice would you give to other designers who are just starting out?
“Look around! Do your research to see if there is white space. Ask yourself tough questions, such as, 'Do I have something special to offer?' Jewelry is an oversaturated market, so you need to stand out and have a voice. From there, dedicate yourself to this and know it's a long road, but it will be worth it.”