As we near the end of a year that has been incredibly difficult, in so many different ways, we're looking forward to the promise of 2021.
There's a Covid-19 vaccine and a new administration in the White House — a history-making one at that. There are the groups, from Aurora James's 15 Percent Pledge to Harlem's Fashion Row's ICON360 to Sharon Chuter's Pull Up for Change, that were founded in 2020 and are only just getting started. There are the personal milestones and the upcoming projects, as well as the continuation of the lessons, work and growth from this year. And, according to fashion and beauty professionals, there's hope.
From designers to editors, models to stylists, brand founders to executives, we asked folks in these industries to reflect on 2020 and share what they're most excited about in the new year. Read their responses, below.
Joan Smalls, model and founder of Donate My Wage
"For me, 2020 has been a year of reflection and finding ways to make a difference in the world. We saw an uneasy amount of racial and social injustice this summer, which continued later into the year. As a response to that, I pledged to donate 50% of my earnings for the remainder of 2020 to Black Lives Matter organizations, but also took my commitment a step further by founding Donate My Wage. I wanted to create a space where people could go to learn more about organizations within the BLM movement and how they could donate and support. This initiative is one that I'm most looking forward to continuing in 2021.
"While we have started to see change, most recently with our Presidential election, there's still so much work to be done. I want to continue working with the 11 organizations we highlight, while also looking at additional groups that need support. If I have learned anything in 2020, it's that I have a voice, a platform and a message, all of which need to be heard and shared. For me, 2021 is not only a new year and a new beginning, but a continued growth opportunity. It's going to be a year to continue the fight, the hard work and the determination to see real, widespread change. Fashion is what I love and it's the industry in which I work and because of that, I will do what I can to help make a difference within it. However, my hope for change doesn't stop there: 2021 is the year to empower those around us to reach their goals and not let anything or anyone stand in their way. No one has to stand alone ever again. While 2020 has been a struggle, I think every person can say they have learned something about themselves and are excited to make 2021 the best year it can be."
Brandon Maxwell, designer
"In 2021, I'm looking forward to so many things! First and most important is the ability to see all my family in Texas. My sister is having her first baby and I want to be there for her. I think the industry has done a lot of soul searching this year and 2021 will see us taking stock of the past and really making an effort to evolve for the better of the consumers and the teams behind the brands."
Michelle Lee, editor-in-chief of Allure
"Well, after this absolute dumpster fire of a year, I'm feeling — thankfully — pretty hopeful about 2021. I'm very excited that Allure is celebrating some major milestones in 2021: our 30th anniversary and the 25th anniversary of our Best of Beauty Awards. It's been fun to look back over the past three decades to see how much beauty has become intertwined with culture, so we'll be diving into that in a major way all year. We're focused on expanding Allure as a brand in some exciting new ways — a few that I can't talk about yet! Audio was very fun for us this year with the launch of our podcast ‘The Science of Beauty,’ so we're looking forward to launching some other podcasts next year. It'll be interesting to see how the world changes after the Presidential inauguration and after the COVID vaccines. I'm looking forward to seeing people in person again one day.”
Victor Glemaud, designer and founder of In the Blk
"The possibility of hope and a return to optimism are what I'm looking forward to in 2021 and beyond. I'm exhausted and feel like I'm running on fumes right now. However, our collective resilience as New Yorkers keeps me stimulated to design and push my creativity forward. Keep your head up!"
Sandrine Charles, publicist, founder of Sandrine Charles Consulting and co-founder of the Black in Fashion Council
"I'm looking forward to continuing a balance of work and life. 2020 has taught us all to slow down and also pivot our priorities. We have seen this in both spaces. I'm hopeful that we will be better people to each other and our creative juices will begin to flow again. I think in terms of the fashion industry, I'm excited at the work we have planned for the Black in Fashion Council with almost 100 brands."
Karla Welch, stylist, founder of xKarla and The Period Company, co-founder of Wishi and Meritocracy
"Madame Vice President. Period."
Aurora James, founder of Brother Vellies and the 15 Percent Pledge
"I'm hoping in 2021 that we're all going to continue consciously shopping. This is a huge opportunity for consumers to continue voting with their dollars to support small and Black-owned businesses. I'm hoping this is finally the time when we take big steps towards making this world a better place. We need to think about how we treat the people we work with, starting with our supply chain. We need to inspire one another to do better."
Leah Thomas, founder of The Intersectional Environmentalist and The Green Girls Collective
"I think 2020 really taught a lot of sustainable apparel brands that sustainability within a supply chain isn't enough and internal sustainability — the responsibility they have as a company to sustain BIPOC employees and create an inclusive work environment — is also important. I'm hopeful, especially after brands like Girlfriend Collective and Glossier have addressed publicly where they went wrong and how they'd like to change that other brands will follow suit and that sustainable apparel will also include Black, Latinx and Indigenous perspectives because who knows who might have an amazing solution to creating a more circular economy that just hasn't been given a platform or chance to be heard."
Natalie Massenet, co-founder and managing partner at Imaginary Ventures
"As investors, we've always sought out underserved consumer markets that are ripe for innovation, whether that be size inclusivity and sustainability in fashion or clean ingredients in beauty. In focusing on these traditionally overlooked markets, our portfolio has been inherently inclusive since day one. The companies in our first fund are over 50% female-founded. In 2021, we're excited to continue supporting founders from diverse backgrounds, who are using their unique experiences to truly transform their categories and solve the problems that other consumers experience in a way that only they can."
Abrima Erwiah, co-founder of Studio One Eighty Nine and Fashion Our Future 2020
"I'm looking forward to joy, to taking time to celebrate life. This year, it feels like we all of a sudden had to stop what we're doing and take a pause on celebrations. I'm looking forward to being able to hug the people in my life and to love them in person and to the energy that comes when we can share a space together physically.
"I'm looking forward to our brand being carried by Bergdorf Goodman. I grew up a few blocks away, and I remember a time not long ago even when salespeople would follow us around, as they thought that because you were Black, you were likely to steal. It's very rare to impossible that you would find brands like ours in stores like BG. It's a true honor for us to be able to be carried in such an iconic and beautiful shop. I'm excited to show my mother and to be able to share our brand with the BG community.
"I'm looking forward to finishing our new collection in Ghana next year. I’m enthusiastic about finishing our work with our weavers, dyers and factory in Ghana and Burkina Faso. I also think we will develop a fun and creative way of showcasing the work during New York Fashion Week in 2021.
"I teach part time at Parsons and the students have been developing incredible design projects that are created with impact in mind and that will change the world. I'm looking forward to seeing how their projects develop and seeing the results of all of their work.
"I'm also looking forward to starting the year with a new administration in the U.S. in January and seeing the potential of change and in particular the historical moment when Kamala Harris becomes the first Southeast Asian, Jamaican-American Black woman VP… so much to look forward to! Change is coming!"
Nicole Chapoteau, fashion director at Vanity Fair
"I'm really looking forward to the Marc Jacobs show. He sat out the fall fashion week circuit but is returning this spring and I'm sure it's going to be spectacular. I have loved every show he has done, from Vuitton to his namesake. I cried at his final show for Louis Vuitton."
Cyndi Ramirez, founder of Chillhouse
"Feels simple, but I'm hopeful for this vaccine. I'm hopeful that people will be more helpful to one another this year, versus in 2020 where it felt like no one could agree on anything. I'm hopeful the entire country is aligned that we want to move on from this monstrous year and that we'll all be planning for a more fruitful future where we're not all scared to go out and socialize. I'm hopeful that the economy will pick up again and innovation will come of it and provide jobs to the people who became unemployed due to the pandemic. I'm hopeful we'll remember the people lost and the people severely impacted financially and help those communities overcome these obstacles. Selfishness has no place in this country — not anymore. Certainly not in my community."
Rachael Wang, stylist and creative consultant
"In 2021, I'm looking forward to the industry continuing to do the work required to ultimately achieve racial justice. Systemic racism is at the heart of so many of the humanitarian and environmental issues that the fashion industry continues to struggle with from the exploitation of laborers to the pollution of land, air and water in communities of color. It's not until we have achieved equity, that the industry can truly be sustainable."
Naeemah Lafond, hairstylist and global artistic director at Amika
"I'm really looking forward to seeing how the fashion and beauty spaces continue to evolve and move forward towards more positive change. There have been so many ongoing virtual conversations this year about what can be done better and what that looks like. I'm hopeful that in 2021, though there may be some kinks along the road, we will witness the tangible first steps of a huge and much needed shift."
Candice Huffine, model and founder of Day Won
"In 2021, I'm looking forward to (and hoping for!) live music, concerts, sweaty dancing with my besties and feeling worry-free. Oh, and a reason to get ridiculously dressed up."
Julee Wilson, beauty director at Cosmopolitan
"On a personal note, I'm really looking forward to having this baby at the top of 2021, which has been a blessing amongst the craziness that happened in 2020, along with landing this amazing job at Cosmopolitan.
"Being a Black woman in beauty, I'm really excited about all of the conversation and momentum around diversity and inclusion. It's something that's only going to get even bigger and better. We're going to find more ways of storytelling that celebrates beauty and all its iterations — its colors, ethnicities and cultures. That gives me hope and really validates the hard work we are doing right now. We just have to keep our foot on the pedal and keep it going.
"Beauty award season is always fun because we just get to celebrate the brands and products that we live for, so I'm also especially looking forward to my first Cosmo Beauty Awards."
Prabal Gurung, designer
"In 2021, I'm excited to continue the fight to dismantle patriarchy and uplift matriarchal power."
Nate Hinton, publicist and founder of The Hinton Group
"I'm hopeful for a refreshed mindset in 2021 for myself personally and for our industry. 2020 was dark and gloomy. The optimism that's on the horizon gives me hope for a time where we can have in-person moments later in the year — events, shows or simple gatherings. We have all adapted to communicating digitally or virtually, but I hope for a time when we have some good old-fashioned human interaction."
Stellene Volandes, editor-in-chief of Town & Country
"I'm at the bar at Joe Allen. It's 7:52 and I realize I can't have that second martini, but remember that for the first time in the longest time, I'm on my way to see a show. That's the night I'm longing for in 2021: our first back for live theater."
Noor Tagouri, journalist, producer and founder of At Your Service Imprint
"2020 was the year of turning our insides out and making us take a clear look at ourselves — a new kind of 2020 vision.
"It's been excruciatingly painful, but the growth has been tremendous. In fashion specifically, we've seen several houses take social and cultural stances. The conversation around inclusion and accountability has started to evolve to more than just ticking off a box. We're seeing more of our stories and experiences documented through the lens of fashion, bringing narratives of BIPOC folk to the forefront. Aurora James starting the 15 Percent Pledge, Hasan Minhaj collaborating with Cole Haan on a shoe, Kerby Jean-Raymond becoming creative director of Reebok and every crevasse in between — creatives are celebrating creatives, and the resulting art is beautiful.
"In 2021, I hope we evolve the conversation around what it means to properly represent people in spaces that previously misrepresented. Less tokens, more rewriting. I personally hope to continue building bridges between storytelling and fashion, from the boardrooms to the campaigns themselves. The more we see ourselves represented, the more we're reminded that our opportunities are endless and that having hope works and must be passed on."
Ali Bird, SVP and managing director at The Wall Group
“At The Wall Group, we've been hard at work internally building out a program to create change in our industry, in light of the Black Lives Matter movement. The TWG Incubator was developed to democratize access and provide opportunities to artists from underrepresented backgrounds, and we will welcome our inaugural class in January. I'm so excited about the level of talent I'm seeing, as well as the diversity of candidates who are interested in fashion and beauty and are passionate about making it a more inclusive place for others to follow in their footsteps. We have always believed in celebrating creative talent and guiding careers, and we can't wait to start this journey with our Incubator mentees."
Trinity Mouzon Wofford, co-founder and CEO of Golde
"We have a lot in store for 2021 at Golde. We spent most of 2020 working on new product extensions, and there are quite a few coming in the first few months of the year alone! It's been such a joy to be able to find forward momentum and creative energy during such a bizarre time in the world. I'm looking forward to sharing what we've created with our community, and am hopeful that they love everything as much as we do."
Nikki Ogunnaike, digital director at Harper’s Bazaar
"I'm looking forward to experiencing anything Kerby Jean-Raymond puts his hands on. Forthcoming collections with Reebok, his new venture Your Friends in New York, a drive-in New York Fashion Week event — Kerby is the future of all the types of things a fashion brand and creative director can do once they break themselves free of traditional expectations and moulds, and I'm excited to watch him work."
Sarah Leff, co-founder and CEO of Jonathan Cohen
"I'm looking forward to continuing the progression we have made as a brand, to keep developing partnerships globally but still managing from New York! Starting January, we're launching our newest collections in a bimonthly drop method, and finally ready-to-wear from our e-comm! It has been exciting to change the way we think through each delivery time frame and what we are wearing. It currently seems like Christmas day, with FedEx boxes of gorgeous fabrics and knits arriving…but really looking forward to May 1st when these garments will be my Zoom and real-life outfits."
"I'm so excited for 2021 because I think we will see brands continuing to push bigger messages and use their platforms to support important causes and champion meaningful issues. With all that has happened in 2020, we have seen designers and fashion houses committed to doing better, being more vocal and really taking action steps towards making the world a better place. I've been fortunate to work with Tommy Hilfiger on his new 'Waste Nothing, Welcome All' initiative. I've been able to work with Pandora, BOTTLETOP and Rothy's on their sustainability programs and charitable endeavors. I'm really seeing a bright 2021 in our near future. We all have the power to make a difference and I personally feel that key fashion players are stepping up and leading the charge." (Editor’s note: Since providing this quote, Aden announced her decision to step down from her modeling career.)
Whembley Sewell, editor-in-chief of Them.
"I love television and I have such a deep respect for everything that goes into making a show come to life. With in-person production having been stalled for many shows this year, I've been so inspired by the different ways in which crews and creatives have approached production in new ways. In 2021, I'm excited for the return of some of my favorite shows, of course, but also to witness what I feel will be the beginning of an entirely new era for animation and experimental specials."
Tanya Taylor, designer
“For 2021, I'm most hopeful about the refreshed focus of the industry. The pandemic has been challenging, but it has refocused the industry to celebrate the emotional aspect of fashion and to empower designers to create what they truly love. It's an exhilarating time for fashion and I'm excited to see the beauty that emerges next year."
Kelly Augustine, content creator and founder of August Raye
"In 2021, I look forward to seeing inclusivity with no boundaries! This was pivotal in pushing the needle forward and I think there is some real opportunity for growth. I'd like to see size expansions, even more diverse models being used, skin shades being catered to… The possibilities are endless."
Erik Maza, style features director at Town & Country
"I'm looking forward to 'The Human Voice' (out in February), Pedro Almodóvar's new short film, because it will resonate with anyone who's been going insane within the confines of home, only in Pedro's telling we make it through to the other side dressing like Tilda Swinton in fabulous Balenciaga ballgowns. Speaking of Balenciaga, I'm looking forward to more designers getting extra funky with their presentations, like Demna Gvasalia and Anna Sui showing new collections on video games, Jonathan Anderson inviting us to wallpaper in lieu of a runway show, and Marc Jacobs, whose Instagram packs more energy and joy than the slog of fashion month IRL. What he told T&C in our December issue is doubling as my 2021 mantra: 'I've got all this stuff, and I just want to enjoy it. Now is the time for everything, you know what I mean? If not now, when?'"
Daniel Martin, makeup artist and global director of artistry and education at Tatcha
"What I look forward to in 2021 is optimism and creativity. We've had a heavy year socially, politically and financially. With a new administration coming in, the vaccine on its way, everyone having to take a pause and reset their own lives, I hope we embrace 2021 as a new beginning. We can't go back, so we need to look to the future with brighter eyes and an open mind. From that, creativity thrives and I'm hopeful that 2021 will be an abundance of that."
Jonathan Cohen, designer
"This year has been such an incredibly difficult one for people all over the world. Navigating through these times has been quite an obstacle both professionally and personally. If there is one thing I have learned and valued, is to be present and take it each day one at a time. This is an attribute that I hope to take forward with me to 2021 and beyond. To really understand the impact, I can make today and how I can better myself and those around me. I'm an eternal optimist and with everything I remain hopeful but know there is still a lot of work to be done."
Sally Holmes, editor-in-chief of Marie Claire
“What I'm most looking forward to in 2021 is a new chapter in American politics. I feel renewed excitement at the thought of reading and editing coverage of the inauguration and everything that comes after for this new administration and our country. And I really can't wait to see and cover what Vice President-elect Kamala Harris says, wears and, most importantly, does as she makes history in our country.
“I'm also looking forward to a new chapter at Marie Claire with my first issues as EIC hitting newsstands in 2021. We're in full March mode over here and I'm already sitting on my hands trying to keep myself from over-excitedly type-shouting about our March and April issues. We have two amazing cover stars and are experimenting with some of the pages in the magazine, which has been, to put it simply, really, really fun. I'm so proud of what the team is doing and I can't wait for everyone to see it."
Brandice Daniel, founder of Harlem's Fashion Row
"In 2021, I'm looking forward to the growth of all of the fantastic initiatives organized to benefit the Black community in fashion. This year was the birth of several organizations, including ICON360, a non-profit we launched in May to provide financial awards and mentorship to designers of color. I feel so much hope knowing there is a village of incredible people working on racial equality in fashion. I'm hopeful that all of our efforts will create a lasting change that will positively impact the next generation."
Samhita Mukhopadhyay, executive editor of Teen Vogue
"My hope for 2021 is that we truly live the lessons we learned in 2020 — whether we wanted to or not. The pandemic changed our priorities as individuals, as workers, as people and in our industry. Excess exposed itself as did anything that wasn't essential, in fact, 'essential' took on a new meaning. I hope we keep our focus on inclusion, justice, safety, health and sustainability. I hope we continue to do less and reflect more and create an industry that is inclusive and responsive to the moment. We need fashion, we need the joy and the inspiration, but it shouldn't come at the cost of our health or this planet."
Mara Hoffman, designer
"The end of the year has brought with it a true, unwavering sense of hope. As a company, we've gone through the biggest upheaval of our 20-year history, an anniversary we had in May while in the throes of the greatest uncertainty about our future. And yet, I feel strength from having been in this raging storm because of what it forced us to do, taking the actions that we've been speaking about for awhile: take stock of inventory issues, not produce our Fall 2020 collection and use existing stock in creative ways. It made us move offices and cut overhead costs. However painful that was, it brought a magnifying glass up to our organizational structure and opened our eyes to what we had to do.
"The change has brought strength in new beginnings and confidence in some of the status quo. For one, holding sustainability at the crux of our decisions has been unwavering. Being of service to others and to this planet has only been reinforced. If I had to choose just one specific example of this, I’m excited to speak about the launch of our Climate Beneficial™ wool sweater and hat, which marks what I hope to be the future of the brand. I'm hopeful for the continued evolution of this industry to work towards leaving this earth a better place than how we found it. Most of all, I'm looking forward to collective healing, rebuilding and reconnecting."
Callia Hargrove, founder and lead strategist at Backstory Consulting
"Something bringing me hope for 2021 is the sustained fight for diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry and beyond. We saw a collective reckoning go on after the George Floyd and Breonna Taylor murders, with a lot of brands promising to do more to create racial equity within their industries. But some of that fervor seems to have died down. I hope that in 2021, with the fresh start that a new year can bring, we remember some of the vital and valuable lessons 2020 taught us. Personally, I'll be dedicating myself to that mission through my work with Backstory, as some of the powerful projects we've been fortunate enough to work on start to roll out. Changing the faces and stories at the forefront of marketing projects is really important to me, and I'm so proud of what we've been able to achieve so far. I'm also excited to continue to cheer on the efforts of others like the 15 Percent Challenge and Pull Up for Change as they continue to grow and progress towards creating a more diverse and inclusive landscape for all."
Rachel Tashjian, style writer at GQ
"I'm so excited to see the continuation of people's changing relationship with clothing and style. Some people are becoming more intentional about not only what they buy but what they put on their body; others are going through a new period of creativity or a journey of self-expression; and some are simply discovering that putting on clothing is a way to find joy. I'm really excited to see brands like Marine Serre, Telfar, Fear of God and Evan Kinori really move beyond the category of 'emerging designers' into something permanent and established, brands we'll love and wear for years to come — and to see a crop of younger labels like Chopova Lowena, Ashley Williams and Asai really resonate with people. I still don't think creativity is as much at the forefront in fashion as it should be — but I feel a sense that a new space is being carved out in fashion for real outsiders, both designers and consumers."