The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence

The Glow Up 50The Glow Up 50Our annual celebration of the black tastemakers, trendsetters and innovators elevating the world of style.

The category is: Influence. Who got the juice? When it comes to this year’s TGU 50 Influence honorees, their impact is overflowing. These 10 luminaries aren’t just doing it for the ‘gram; they’re doing it for us—holding companies, cultural institution and entire industries accountable and ensuring inclusion isn’t just a trend.

Whether it’s convincing some of the biggest retailers in America to reflect the country’s demographics on their shelves and staffs; demanding a more diverse fashion industry, or reminding us yet again that trans is beautiful and worthy of the spotlight too, these changemakers are doing us proud—and proving that Black influence isn’t just aesthetic.

Advertisement

Illustration for article titled The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence
Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP (Getty Images)
Advertisement

Aurora James

When Toronto native and Brother Vellies Creative Director Aurora James started the #15PercentPledge last June, she had one goal in mind—to compel more representation on the shelves of major retailers. Sephora was the first to come on board, followed by other major companies like GAP, Macy’s, West Elm, American Vogue and Crate and Barrel, all of which agreed to allocate a minimum of 15 percent of their offerings and efforts to Black-owned brands, designers and staff members at every level. When James isn’t holding various companies’ feet to the fire on the inclusion front, she’s using her background in fashion, journalism and art to maintain the creative vision of Brother Vellies, the luxury footwear and accessories brand dedicated to showcasing African design aesthetics at the luxury level while preserving traditional techniques and providing competitive revenue to artisans.

Visit: Instagram


Illustration for article titled The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence
Photo: Eugene Gologursky for LENS (Getty Images)
Advertisement

Bethann Hardison

The fashion world has never seen a force like Bethann Hardison. Discovered by legendary designer Willi Smith, the former fashion salesperson-turned-model made her breakthrough in the historic Battle of Versailles in 1973. Nearly half a century later, Hardison, also founder of a successful modeling and management agency that bore her name, is not only still appearing in fashion campaigns (Gucci, anyone?), but still breaking barriers as an advocate for change. Having co-founded the Black Girls Coalition with supermodel Iman in 1988 to celebrate and support Black models in the industry, in 2008, Hardison brought that vision to the fore as a collaborator on Vogue Italia’s iconic “All Black” issue. In the years since, she has continued to champion diversity both in front of and behind the camera; after launching The Designers Hub to support emerging Black designers, Hardison recently partnered with the CFDA to issue grants to 10 deserving recipients. She also serves as Gucci’s executive advisor for global equity and culture engagement.

Advertisement

Visit: Instagram


Illustration for article titled The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence
Photo: Chris Chambers - Instagram
Advertisement

The Chamber Group

If he isn’t pushing himself to be the best for his elite clientele, publicist Chris Chambers is doing what he does best: keeping his edge over the competition. Through his branding, lifestyle and entertainment PR firm the Chamber Group, Chambers boasts an impressive roster of talent from the worlds of music, film, TV, fashion and sports, including Naomi Campbell, Lee Daniels, Teyana Taylor, Erykah Badu and Jeremy O. Harris. With over 20 years’ experience at the helm, the Chamber Group’s imprint is on everything from Hollywood premieres to the world-renowned Essence Festival of Music and Culture...and Chambers does it for the culture, indeed.

Advertisement

Visit: Instagram


Illustration for article titled The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence
Photo: Fashion Tech Connects - Instagram
Advertisement

Fashion Tech Connects

Stacie Henderson (left) and Stephanie Horton and know it is vital for women of color to feel welcome and supported in their respective industries—because they know the challenges firsthand. Henderson brought technology to luxury retailers such as Versace and Ferragamo before becoming the U.S. head of e-commerce and digital for Tod’s Group, while Horton is global marketing director, Commerce for Google. Together, they launched Fashion Tech Connects, a mentorship-based program matching college-aged women with internships merging fashion and technology. Through partnerships with the likes of Estée Lauder Companies Online, Coveteur, Alexander Wang, Farfetch, Shopbop, StitchFix, and Tory Burch, Fashion Tech Connects is improving the odds for women of color in those fields.

Advertisement

Visit: Instagram


Illustration for article titled The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence
Photo: Francois Durand (Getty Images)
Advertisement

Leyna Bloom

Making history as the first Black and Asian transgender woman and the second transgender woman ever to be featured in Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, model, actress, and activist Leyna Bloom is breaking ground for not only herself, but generations to come. Having first gained prominence in the ballroom community, Bloom broke barriers as one of the few openly transgender models to walk New York Fashion Week in 2017, the first openly transgender model on the the cover of Vogue India, and the first trans woman of color to star in movie that premiered at Cannes Film Festival in 2019. Aside from her obvious beauty, Bloom’s resiliency, talent and steadfast advocacy for the rights and liberties of transgender people confirm she’s a force on the rise.

Advertisement

Visit: Instagram


Illustration for article titled The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence
Photo: Vickie Vee (Instagram)
Advertisement

Nate Hinton

Nate Hinton launched the Hinton Group in 2018 and quickly emerged as one of the most powerful names in fashion PR. Representing a diverse and eclectic range of artists and designers, the Hinton Group isn’t a “regular” PR agency; with the understanding that Black creatives are underrepresented in the industry, the Norfolk, Va. native makes it a priority to foster the creative space for his clients’ projects to flourish. Those clients have included Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow of Public School, fellow 2021 TGU 50 honorees Sergio Hudson and Christopher John Rogers, and any number of celebrities. “We are not going to allow people to tell us what to do,” Hinton recalls telling Jean-Raymond at their first meeting (h/t Fashionista). “We’re not going to be dictated by anyone’s rules and we are going to win.”

Advertisement

Visit: Instagram


Illustration for article titled The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence
Photo: hill House Vintage - Instagram
Advertisement

Paula Sutton

If anyone epitomizes “the good life,” it’s influencer and stylist Paula Sutton, who visually chronicles her idyllic lifestyle in the English countryside for her much beloved Instagram account, Hill House Vintage. With “country interiors, gardens, frocks and flowers” as her inspiration and her very own manor as her backdrop, Sutton, a veteran of fashion publishing who retreated from the fast lane to furnish her own fairy tale, proves gracious living can be colorful—and diverse, too; haters be damned. Her first book, Hill House Living: The Art of Creating a Joyful Life, is due to be published this fall.

Advertisement

Visit: Instagram


Illustration for article titled The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence
Photo: Sandrine Charles - Instagram
Advertisement

Sandrine Charles

Since launching her own consulting and communications firm in 2016, Sandrine Charles has been the quiet but powerful force working with some of the industry’s most notable men’s and sportswear brands including Drake’s October’s Very Own, Nordstrom x Nike, Champs Sports, Ivy Park, Adidas and more. After a year that saw serious racial reckonings happen across various industries, Charles, along with former Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue turned Editor-in-Chief of The Cut (and fellow 2021 TGU 50 honoree) Lindsay Peoples Wagner formed the Black in Fashion Council in 2020. Comprised of over 400 stakeholders, Black in Fashion Council’s purpose is to “represent and secure the advancement of black individuals in the fashion and beauty industry” and envisions “a world in which black people in fashion and beauty spaces can be open and honest, guaranteed equal rights, and be celebrated for our voices.”

Advertisement

Visit: Instagram


Illustration for article titled The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence
Photo: SheilaBridges.com
Advertisement

Sheila Bridges

Anyone who’s been to Harlem will tell you: it’s a mood unto itself. With her now-legendary “Harlem Toile De Jouy” print, acclaimed interior designer and author Sheila Bridges captured the historic neighborhood’s elegance, edge and inherent Blackness—and the print is rightly featured in the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum’s permanent wallpaper collection. Since founding her eponymous design firm in 1994, Bridges has designed homes and offices for a veritable who’s who of clientele, and landed on any number of top designers’ lists. As for her signature print, the Harlem Toile found new life in 2020 via an instantly sold-out apparel and accessories collaboration with Converse.

Advertisement

Visit: Instagram


Illustration for article titled The Glow Up 50 2021: Meet the Arbiters of Influence
Photo: Julian Dakdouk for Thrilling
Advertisement

Zerina Akers

It’s no secret that Black creatives in the beauty, fashion and overall lifestyle industry have a hard time being credited, let alone celebrated for their talent, skills, and products. Thanks to costume designer and wardrobe curator Zerina Akers’ Black Owned Everything, things are on the cusp of changing. Recognizing the need to spotlight more Black-owned businesses and drawing inspiration from her jaw-dropping, diaspora-celebrating work in Beyoncé’s Black Is King, Akers launched the now viral Instagram page and e-commerce website during the pandemic and is continuing to provide visibility, support, promotion and and her impeccable endorsement for brands that arguably deserve it the most.

Advertisement

Visit: Instagram


Want more? Watch our video to see these influencers in action!

(Video production: Peter J. Rickards, Animations: Heather Hass)

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up, co-host of The Root Presents: It's Lit! podcast, and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door...May I borrow some sugar?

DISCUSSION

Advertisement

Advertisement