A Modest Fashion Line in Brooklyn

Knight in her studio, where she’s working on a new collection. (Photo by Katie Warren via The Bridge)

Nzinga Knight New York, named after its founder, offers high-end clothing to stores and customers in more than 30 countries from its base in Brooklyn. In a story for The Bridge, Katie Warren speaks to Knight about her Caribbean roots, designing a diverse line of apparel, and running two businesses.

In a runway show, models wear gowns with and without the traditional hijab (Photo courtesy of Nzinga Knight via The Bridge)

Knight has found a promising business at the intersection of style and Muslim culture, where women seeking to be both modest and elegant had few satisfying choices. Knight’s look draws on tradition, but with a contemporary sensibility. “I’m interested in not only having a sense of what I want as a designer, but also having a sense of what’s in the air and what is socially, culturally and emotionally relevant for people,” Knight said in a Brooklyn café near her Clinton Hill studio on a chilly December morning.

While Knight is devoutly religious herself, her fashion line takes an ecumenical approach. Her designs range from seriously modest, with built-in hijabs, to gowns with a more flamboyant spirit. “I have a good amount of Muslim clientele and then I have a good amount of women who are of various other faiths or non-faiths who love the clothing,” she said.

Knight, who shares her given name (pronounced Nuh-ZING-gah) with a celebrated African queen, is a Brooklyn native of Trinidadian descent who describes her family as “seven vibrant Caribbean women where great modest fashion was paramount.” She began dabbling in design as a child when her uncle, a fashion designer himself, let Knight work with him in his studio.


Although her personal style is modest, if her customers wanted a dress to be “backless or low, cleavage and all that kind of stuff, then I’d do that,” she said.

It was a photography book on east African women Knight found for a class project at Pratt Institute that would continue to inspire her years later. Read more at The Bridge on this, as well as on her desire in “dismantling the patriarchy’s control over my life and psyche,” upcoming projects, and a second business that involves her Caribbean roots.

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