Atlanta Fashion Designer Launches Fall Collection Inspired By Her Team Of All Black Women

Shades of Black collection | By Iman Akilah

If you haven’t yet heard about Atlanta-based designer Iman Ingram and her label By Iman Akilah, it’s time to get familiar as she is launching her second collection just in time for the Fall Season. By Iman Akilah is a women’s ready-to-wear clothing line that specializes in designing clothing for women who like to embrace their curves. You’ll often find pieces with ruffles, bold silhouettes, exaggerated sleeves, embellishments, and high slits. Iman designs feminine pieces that highlight your natural waistline and emphasize your curves.

After her best selling Joyce Puff Sleeve Dress, which has been worn on influencers around the world and featured on NBC New York Live, Ingram wanted this new collection to be an ode to black women. The Shades of Black Collection aims to be a conversation starter about black womanhood, their power, voice, and influence across all media and platforms.

The Shades of Black Collection will consist of contour curving bodysuits, blazer dresses, long flowing maxis, and an epic return of the Joyce Puff Sleeve Dress in long sleeve. Each piece was designed with the black woman and all her glory in mind.

Iman not only wants to amplify the stories of her team but is dedicated to making sure that black women everywhere are seen and heard. “I want black women to start telling their stories and speaking their truths so that we don’t have to be subject to someone else telling it for us,” she said in a press release.

“This collection is inspired by the talented and multifaceted women that bring By Iman Akilah to life and their stories are equally important and crucial to its success.”

We spoke with the designer to learn more about her new collection, her powerful message, and the importance of Black women’s stories.

Shades of Black collection | By Iman Akilah

Tell us about the new collection and what inspired the message behind it? 

Shades of Black Collection is my love letter to Black Women, who I often refer to as the under-represented group in the fashion industry. It’s always the right time to support, embrace and uplift Black Women, however this was the perfect time to design Shades of Black Collection because too often society controls our narrative. We see that especially now as the murderers of Breonna Taylor are still at large. This is the time to honor, empower and pay homage to Women of melanin hues.

2020 has brought about conversations about race like never before, despite issues of systemic racism and police brutality being realities for years. How do you as a designer and your team of women use your platform to address the issues affecting your community?

As a designer, I design clothes that empower women to be unapologetically themselves. You see this in a statement bodysuit and through the messaging we add in our packaging and on our hang tags. In addition to this we have started a “Show Your Shades” campaign where we invite women to record a video introducing the world to who they are, telling their story and speaking about what it means to be a black woman and direct their own narrative. Too often assumptions are made and our stories are told for us.

Why was it important to you to have a team of all Black women, and why should the fashion industry take diversity more seriously? 

In an industry that is not diversified at all I knew if I was going to do this, I had to design and manufacturer my own collection. I must do it with women that not only inspire me but that I design for. When the fashion industry ignores the various body types of black women in editorials, and when they’re designing and doing fits for only certain styles, I see that as a representation choice that they indeed don’t care about the needs of Black women. Here at By Iman Akilah we design for the women who are under-represented, women who are hippier, have more boobs than others and have a larger rear. 

In the press release about your new collection you talk about wanting more Black women to start telling their stories, so we’d like to know more about yours! Talk to us about rebranding, redemption and how you are dealing with the Pandemic? 

I was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia. I for as far back as I can remember I wanted to be a fashion designer. The more I researched, studied and shopped I realized my niche was me the whole time. Women like me who would go shopping and nothing would fit right. The chest area would pull. The pants would either gape at the waistline or pants wouldn’t fit over the hips. And that just wasn’t going to work. During the Pandemic, I didn’t know what I’d do – our NYC factory closed and I couldn’t get product out to our customers. We were doing returns by the boatload. So my team and I doubled down and focused on what we could do/create, and did more of that.

Shades of Black collection | By Iman Akilah

Who were your fashion icons growing up and who do you most admire in the industry today? 

My grandma and uncle have always been my fashion icons. My mother’s style is refined, classic, high-end and sophisticated. My uncle’s style is sleek, bold and high-end. In the industry I admire Pyer Moss and Anifa.

Fashion isn’t just about aesthetics or style, it has been a powerful voice throughout generations and different eras. What message do you hope your collection will share with the world? 

I hope people see my collection and feel empowered, special, and honored. I want people to wear our clothes and feel inspired to embrace their curves, and show off their silhouettes. 

For more information about the By Iman Akilah brand, visit Support the crowdfunding campaign by donating at

Shades of Black collection | By Iman Akilah