Your social media feeds may be going back to their regular content, but it is just as important as ever to keep the #BlackLivesMatter conversation going and continue to combat systemic racism. It’s not just up to big corporations to change their internal structures; you can also aid in the fight against systematic racism by incorporating Black-owned businesses into your shopping list.
It’s no secret the fashion industry has co-opted the style and ideas of Black culture and creatives without proper compensation, and Black-owned fashion labels face an even greater challenge being accepted into the luxury market. Uplifting Black-owned fashion brands is a way to dismantle these barriers. Being an ally means more than posting a hashtag or supportive image on social media. It means actively supporting Black people, and by buying Black, this strengthens the Black community and its resources and fosters a more diverse marketplace.
We’re focusing on Black-owned fashion labels that have taken a sustainable approach to their businesses. There is a growing demand, especially from Generation Z, for eco-friendly products, so brands that align themselves with this value open themselves up for success. Without further ado, here are ten Black and female-owned fashion brands, which have put sustainability at the forefront of their business models, that you should support today, tomorrow, and every day.
Hope for Flowers: Tracy Reese
You may remember Tracy Reese as the designer of Michelle Obama’s 2012 Democratic National Convention dress or from her collaboration with Anthropologie. Her label, Hope for Flowers, is an empowering collection, which inspires women to be positive changemakers in the world. The collection is ethically sourced and made with the health of people, planet, and equity in profit in mind. 10% of all proceeds even go to Detroit Dirt, an organization whose mission is to lower carbon emissions and achieve a zero-waste mindset among communities. Customers can look good while being a part of doing good.
House of Aama: Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka
Founded by a mother and daughter design duo, House of Aama aims to celebrate their Creole roots and African American heritage. A truly unique brand, it emphasizes storytelling of the Black experience through womenswear and menswear, specifically of the postbellum American south. Garments are made 100% in LA on a made-to-order model, so there is little waste.
Studio 189: Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah
Co-founded by actress and activist Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, Studio 189 is a fashion lifestyle brand. The company works with artisanal communities in Africa to create jobs and African-inspired products that use materials and techniques like natural plant-based dye and batik. Designs are made from sustainable materials like organic cotton, silk, and recycled cotton and glass, and they experiment with new fabrics, including those made from pineapple and wood. Notably, Dawson and Erwiah took home the CFDA Lexus Fashion Initiative for Sustainability in 2018 for their innovative work.
The Narativ: Farai Simoyi
Simoyi, (of Netflix’s hit design show “Next in Fashion” and former Senior Designer of both Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj’s fashion lines) founded The Narativ in 2015. The online store is a collection of artisan brands that embraces sustainability and traditional craftsmanship. It offers everything from apparel to jewelry, and Black designers are heavily featured.
Two Days Off: Gina Stovall
Sustainability is the core of this business. The team believes the production of apparel should not endanger others’ lives, so they create thoughtful, conscious pieces that last. All garments are made in Los Angeles, primarily from natural fibers, which have less of an impact on the environment than synthetics. Fabrics are sourced from deadstock textiles (material that has already been manufactured but unused), and products are shipped in biodegradable, plastic-free packaging. Two Days Off avoids unnecessary waste by producing pieces made to order or in limited batches, making them even more exclusive for the wearer.
Cee Cee’s Closet: Chioma and Uchenna Ngwudo
An NYC-based fashion brand started by two sisters whose offerings include head wraps, apparel, and accessories. Their designs celebrate the beauty of West African prints and are handmade by artisans in Nigeria. Artisans are paid a living wage.
Brother Vellies: Aurora James
This luxury accessories label was founded by designer and activist Aurora James and loved by Meghan Markle, Beyoncé, and Elaine Welteroth. Accessories are handmade by artisans worldwide using a variety of materials and techniques like vegetable-tanning, soling from recycled tires, hand-carved wood, and floral dye. The core of the brand is to honor their artisans, so there is a strict policy of no discounts or sales, and fair labor practices are adhered.
Serendipitous Project: Sydney Ziems
The Project’s mission is to create an eco-friendly and affordable alternative to trendy jewelry. Ziems looks to art and nature for inspiration for her collections. Very uniquely, this brand offers one-of-a-kind up-cycled accessories and vintage pieces, such as those from Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera. Permanent collection pieces are made to order and are designed with natural materials, such as pearls, stones, sea glass, and shells. The Serendipitous Project is also vocal about social justice issues and donated profits from two-weeks worth of sales to the Minnesota Freedom Fund, a bail and immigration bond fund for those who cannot afford to pay.
Omi Woods: Ashley Alexis McFarlane
This jewelry brand is an homage to McFarlane’s Jamaican-Ashanti-Maroon heritage. Its jewelry celebrates all reaches of the African diaspora and is meant to be precious to the wearer, so one day, it may be passed down to future generations.
All fine metals are globally sourced and conflict-free. In particular, their gold is fair-trade, sourced from African artisanal mines that pay their workers a fair wage and contribute to improving health care, education, and living conditions.
Devi Arts Collective: Bayoush Mengesha
This jewelry collective is centered on “slow fashion,” which allows consumers to be more environmentally and ethically conscious. Pieces are inspired by nature and handmade by artisans across the globe. All jewelry is made by Mengesha in Vancouver, and gemstones are ethically sourced from and cut in India, meaning working conditions are safe, and there is no child labor. Also, Mengesha uses recycled silver and gold.
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