Nuevo Culture

6 Black Designers to Watch, According to Sherri McMullen

Sherri McMullen’s eye for design is legendary. She started her career in fashion as a buyer for Neiman Marcus, before launching her eponymous boutique in Oakland in 2007. She stocks not only the classic fashion girl brands—Khaite, Proenza Schouler, and Jacquemus among them—but also smaller labels that prompt the question “where did you get that?” She’s also a champion of Black designers: she was the first retailer to buy Christopher John Rogers, who went on to win the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2019 and now has a collaboration with Target. “His collection is colorful, happy and makes you want to get dressed,” she told Vogue. “His use of vibrant colors and his unexpected shapes are what sets him apart.” She also brought the Nigerian label Maki Oh to the West Coast, after some serious Insta-stalking. Ahead of Juneteenth, we asked her to name her favorite talents to support (or, depending on budget, admire from afar). Coincidentally, many of them are labels which she was the first to stock. Below are her picks.

Aisling Camps is an incredible knitwear designer who is taking fashionable knits to the next level. Her pieces embody her Caribbean roots and we love layering her sheer turtleneck with other pieces in our store. She has the perfect neutral palette that works so effortlessly with so many styles and to know that she is doing this all by hand makes her knitwear that much more special.

Khiry creates sculptural art pieces for the body. He designs beautiful jewelry that merges wearable art with culture from the African diaspora which is seen in every piece in his collection. I’m a hoop wearer and his Jug hoops are one of my favorites.

Every home needs Estelle Glassware. Her beautiful hand-blown glassware reminds me of my grandmother’s cake stands and colored glasses that she owned in her home. Once you buy a set, you keep collecting them. She makes hosting so much more fun and lively.

Harwell Godfrey is a very talented fine jewelry designer that we have been working with for a couple of years. She uses the most incredible colors and shapes that are both spiritual and architectural. She made an exclusive piece for us to commemorate Vice President Kamala Harris’ 100 days in office as the first female, Black and Asian to hold that position. This special piece included pearls, along with pink and green stones with “First but Not the Last” and “#46” engraved on the back. This collaboration with Lauren holds so much meaning to me. It’s a timeless piece that captures such an important and historic time in our nation’s history.

Tove makes timeless beautiful pieces that every woman wants to wear and live in year-round. I instantly fell in love with their feminine silhouettes. The silk dresses are a definite closet staple that have recently become my go-to for all of my new outings! It has been such a joy to see our client’s positive reactions since we introduced Tove at McMullen. I am a big fan of their sustainability philosophy and can’t wait to see what's next from this young exciting brand.

Third Crown fuses architectural beauty with clean geometric shapes. I love that their jewelry is genderless, simple, yet elegant for everyday wear. The simplicity in their designs makes a statement but doesn’t overwhelm you. Our clients keep wanting more and we are thrilled to add unisex men’s jewelry to our assortment this month!