Black Fashion in Full Bloom: Tori Nichel Launches Curated Online Retail Space, MAISON BLACK

A curated online retail space for luxury fashion accessible to all — exclusively featuring products by Black designers — is the new concept behind MAISON BLACK.

MAISON BLACK, founded by Tori Nichel, chief creative officer, launched an online platform that is geared to offer a space for emerging — and longtime — Black designers to launch, promote and increase their own businesses.

“I created MAISON BLACK to build an ecosystem that fosters design excellence and creativity for Black designers. I want to create a destination for discovery where Black-designed products are accessible globally. It is our mission to serve the Black designer community in order to create access, exposure and longevity in the fashion industry,” according to Nichel in a press release.

Nichel told the Michigan Chronicle that her inspiration behind founding MAISON BLACK came from the lack of findability of Black-designed products.

“In addition, a key motivator came from the imbalance and lack of access [to specialty and luxury retailers] and inequalities in funding for Black designers,” she said adding that Black designers need and deserve a platform and retail space that champions their design excellence and creative expertise while providing an opportunity to expand their customer base. “MAISON BLACK is in the business of building legacies and ensuring staying power.”

Nichel also said that the most important thing to note about MAISON BLACK is that her company is a global retail destination that will feature Black designers who have been underrepresented and overlooked.

“We will exemplify design excellence in the accessible luxury market. We are here to create community, foster unity, build together,” she said, adding that the path she took to get here today has been leveraging her 20-plus year design experience as a womenswear designer, visionary and creative leader.

Nichel’s background includes brand building, conceptualizing, and spearheading design vision and storytelling. She has also designed for Jennifer Lopez and was recognized by WWD and Forbes as a “Designer to Watch,” (among other things including) inspiring women on a budget to own their style. Tori Nichel holds degrees in Fashion Design from the Fashion Institute of Technology and Michigan State University.

“It has been a wonderful mix of my love of exceptional design, fashion, innovation [and] entrepreneurial spirit paired with my expertise in brand building, leadership skills in people management,” she said.

The fashion industry is boldly moving ahead with Nichel — and others at the helm — in Detroit with her upcoming show, Manhattan to Motown. MAISON BLACK is presenting the fashion show Wednesday, October 20, at Ford Piquette Avenue Plant, 461 Piquette Ave.

The invite-only event features a “beautifully curated selection of Black design talent” from six designers who will celebrate the launch and pay homage to the city that gave them the foundation.

Fashions will include seasonless collections in a runway presentation featuring native Black designers like award-winning APOTTS (Aaron Potts) and Kevan Hall, Isaiah Hemmingway, N’GAI (Nicole King), TRUTH (Sharryl Cross), and S. MCGEE COLLECTION (Shawna McGee). Following the runway presentation, the “Manhattan to Motown” collections will be available for purchase at a three-day pop-up shopping experience from 2 to 6 p.m. Thursday, October 21, and from noon to 6 p.m. Friday, October 22, and October 23 at Shinola, 441 Canfield Street in Detroit. The pop-up, open to the public, invites guests to meet Nichel, the designers, and to peruse their respective collections.

Potts told the Michigan Chronicle that he and Nichel are longtime friends and are a part of a close-knit community of Black designers and creatives that only grew stronger during the pandemic, quarantine and the rise of the Black Lives Matter, which bolstered the local fashion movement.

“Our group grew even closer and really started thinking about more independence, collective advancement and how we could affect change in the fashion industry, an industry plagued with racism and bias,” he said.  “MAISON BLACK addresses those issues and is change-in-action.”

Potts added that while Detroit is known for its cars and music, the city also has a rich history of successful designers, illustrators, and fashion models that have had thriving careers in New York City and Europe.

“When Tori was thinking about launch events, a Detroit event was a natural move.  Detroit is experiencing a renaissance and is a hub of creativity and evolution right now.  It is very special for all of us to collectively show at home in Detroit, at this moment, together.  And it is the debut of APOTTS in Detroit so it makes it even more special to me,” he said. “I’m so excited to present APOTTS in Detroit for the very first time.  And to do so with MAISON BLACK, Tori and so many of my friends is a true blessing and a dream come true.”

For more information go to Find MAISON BLACK at @maisonblacknewyork.


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