Carly Cushnie | Basically Black History Series

Jante' Pruitt

Posted on February 26 2021

Carly Cushnie | Basically Black History Series | BASICALLY. By PinkGrasshopper


This week we celebrate, Carly Cushnie:

  • Co-founder and designer at fashion house Cushnie et Ochs (later Cushnie); you’ve seen their designs on women such as  Michelle Obama, Beyonce, Rihanna and many more
  • With a design aesthetic often characterized as clean, modern, and sexy, Cushnie et Ochs earned the acknowledgement of the fashion industry early on, winning the Ecco Domini Award in 2009, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award in 2011, and the CFDA Swarovski Award in 2013
  • One of few Black women leading an internationally recognized fashion house, Carly Cushnie is an inspiration to us at  Basically. Clothing. Though it seems the journey at Cushnie has come to a close, we’re continuing to watch for Carly Cushnie’s next steps, we always bet on Black creatives


Carly Cushnie graduated from Parsons Fashion Design program and, with a resume replete with stints at design houses like Oscar de la Renta and Proenza Schouler, started Cushnie et Ochs with classmate and fellow Parsons alumnae Michelle Ochs. Cushnie describes the line’s desire to design clothing for “a sophisticated woman who wanted to be sexy without being vulgar” -- a vision that is reflected in their collections, characterized as bold, sensual, clean, sleek and modern. Internationally recognized, Cushnie et Ochs later transitioned to Cushnie and grew to include handbags, denim, and bridal designs.



In October 2020, Carly Cushnie announced that Cushnie would be coming to a close, heavily impacted by the COVID-19 global pandemic. As she speaks about the close, she highlights the inequitable nature of an industry driven by customers who are women, but often not supportive of women in the industry, including designers like herself. As we watch for Carly Cushnie’s next steps in her career, we will also continue to watch how the industry does or does not rise to the changes demanded by those who drive it’s growth and relevance, yet are still marginalized within it.


Reference articles:

Profile: Carly Cushnie

Carly Cushnie Closes Her Designer Business

Carly Cushnie, Fashion Designer, Named on Forbes “30 under 30” list

Carly Cushnie Closes Brand, Leaving the Pool of Black Women Fashion Designers Even Smaller

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