Last February, when Milan Fashion Week purveyor Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana partnered with Tamu McPherson to spotlight Italian creatives of color, Stella Jean — then the only Black designer featured on the calendar — pulled back from showing her collection. For Jean, it was an act of voicing her justifiable frustration with the fashion industry’s lack of representation, as well as an effort to bring awareness to a series of hate crimes throughout Italy. She quickly took action by teaming up with the Italian Office Against Racial Discrimination to launch a social media campaign and corresponding lookbook, Italians in Becoming. You could surmise that Jean was poised for the racial reckoning that took hold on a global scale months later, following the murder of George Floyd.

Widely recognized in fashion circles as Giorgio Armani’s protegé, Jean, who is Haitian-Italian, has been the only Black member of Camera della Moda since being inducted back in 2016. Last summer, she continued to flex her activism muscles by joining forces with Milan-based designer Edward Buchanan and Afro Fashion Week founder Michelle Ngomo to form the Black Lives Matter in Italy Fashion Collective. Through the network, the three power players mentor and foster BIPOC talent in Italy. And this Milan Fashion Week, the powerful group made history with a stellar design showcase in partnership with Camera della Moda: five made-in-Italy labels with BIPOC founders, cleverly dubbed “The Fab Five Bridge Builders.”

Ahead, find out more about the five incredible designers who are sure to make waves in the fashion scene.

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