How Tracy Reese emerged as one of the most successful black designers in the fashion industry  

Abu Mubarik June 23, 2023
Reese has dressed celebrities and popular figures like Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker, Oprah Winfrey, and former First Lady, Michelle Obama .Photo credit: Tracy Reese via Instagram

Tracy Reese is an American designer and entrepreneur who got exposed to the fashion industry in her Detroit home, where she designed and sewed outfits alongside her mother. Her unique prints are crafted into colorful, feminine clothing for modern women.

Her journey to becoming a fashion guru began in 1998 when she launched her Tracy Reese fashion brand in New York City. Since then, she has expanded her main fashion brand to include sub-brands like Plenty, Frock!, and Black Label, with designs sold in Neiman Marcus, Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, and Anthropologie.

Reese has dressed celebrities and popular figures like Beyoncé, Sarah Jessica Parker, Oprah Winfrey, and former First Lady, Michelle Obama, according to Forbes.

Before launching her career in fashion, Reese went to Parsons School of Design, and graduated in 1984. She worked at a small contemporary firm called Arlequin, under Martine Sitbon, where she gained hands-on experience in fashion design. She also worked for top fashion firms like Perry Ellis, where she held the post of design director for women’s portfolios. 

In recent years, Reese has turned her attention more to sustainable fashion and social impact. In 2019, she launched the “Hope for Flowers” collection with a mission to create a positive social impact by empowering women and young people through arts programming in public schools and collaboration with local artisans in Detroit.

Prior to “Hope for Flowers,” Reese released not less than 10 collections in an average year. It could be up to 30 if Plenty, her capsule collection, and other project developments are considered.

According to the New York Times, Hope For Flowers releases about five collections, 15 to 25 pieces each. These include her colorful dresses, tops, skirts, and pants. 

“It had to be just a completely different business model than the one we were functioning in before,” she said during an interview at her office in Detroit. “And it’s not that the old one was so bad, but we were over-designing, we were overdeveloping, we were overproducing.”

Before becoming a major force in the fashion industry, her first attempt at entrepreneurship failed, forcing her to shut down her company. However, she bounced back stronger and more profitable after re-launching in 1996.

In addition to the ‘Tracy Reese’ and ‘Plenty’ fashion lines, Reese has expanded into footwear, home collections, and nail polish.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: June 23, 2023


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