On 25th May, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by a white police officer, leading to protests all around the world in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to remember the many lives lost.
Online, people have been asking how they can champion equality beyond the little black square of #BlackOutTuesday, and while there is so much we can do, from educating ourselves to donating to worthy causes, one option is to support black-owned fashion brands and designers.
New York based Aurora James, founder of Brother Vellies, explained on Instagram, ‘So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space.’
She is asking big retailers in the US to pledge 15% of their shelf space to black-owned brands (you can sign the petition to support here), and with 21% of black-owned businesses thinking they won’t survive the economic impact of the pandemic, now is as good a time as ever to start supporting.
With that in mind, here are some incredible black-owned fashion brands, some UK-based and others from around the globe (which deliver worldwide), that you can discover now.
Scroll down for a mix of gorgeous dresses, handbags and accessories and where to buy them.
Míe is a lifestyle brand that provides design and fashion consciously made to be nature-friendly. Their focus is on resort wear, made with natural and biodegradable fabrics, that are breathable, elegant and functional, for conscious women and all women with refined taste. All clothes are locally made by seamstresses and artisans in Lagos, Nigeria.
A A K S was founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi with the goal of introducing the world to her favourite weaving techniques done by the women of Ghana while also creating and igniting sustainable jobs within Africa. Shop the unique and colourful bags hand-crafted in Ghana.
London-based duo Camille Perry and Holly Wright wanted to pool their experience in the fashion industry to create timeless clothing that balances modernity and femininity.
This store on vintage finds and handmade pieces embellished with the treasures of tropical islands.
Toronto-native and New York City-transplant, Creative Director and Founder Aurora James founded the brand in 2013 with the goal of keeping traditional African design practices, and techniques alive while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs. Her pieces are vintage-inspired and one-of-a-kind.
A ‘leather accessories hinting spunk in effortless ways of impression’ founded by self taught designer/artisan Valerie Blaise, in Brooklyn New York. All designs are made in house.
UK-based Maison Bent was created by Shanna Bent, an alumni of Central Saint Martins and London College of Fashion, who showcased her first collection in February 2020. Enlightened by heterogenous disciplines entailing literature, art, sustainable practises and history, Maison Bent celebrates a plurality of perspectives, sharing stories through finery for the “femme du mode”.
Mixing African and French influences, the collections are feminine and chic, and created in limited numbers to promote sustainability.
Shola Ajayi is a British born, Nigerian descent designer based in London. Her tailoring is anything but boring, thanks to colourful details and cut outs.
CUSHNIE is a luxury women’s ready-to-wear and bridal brand designed by Carly Cushnie. Established in 2008, the label was founded on the desire to serve the modern woman.
Earth Toned Collective is a sustainable and ethical women’s apparel brand. Designing with the Earth in mind via eco friendly, and revived materials.
This luxury sustainable brand was founded by fashion editor and stylist Brittany Kozerski. Her aesthetic is minimal and flattering.
This New York-based jewellery brand was created by self-taught designer Matthew Harris launched Mateo New York in 2009 with a contemporary jewellery offering, taking inspiration from the working man’s toolbox. Starting off as a men’s collection, a women’s line was added in 2014.
This LA-based brand was founded by Alexandra Bunch, and focuses on simple and timeless designs made sustainably, using deadstock material to reduce waste and carbon footprint.
Sincerely Nude was founded by London based Michelle Asare in 2018, because she ‘noticed that I could never find any nude clothing close to my skin tone whenever I went shopping or even browsing online. This realisation became somewhat of frustration as I noticed it everywhere I went. I’ve always loved fashion and it felt dear to my heart to be part of the change I wanted to see in the world. From a discussion to fruition. Sincerely Nude wants to empower women to feel beautiful and sexy in their skin tone no matter what shade or size.’
Central St Martins graduate Sindiso Khumalo is a sustainable textile designer based in Cape Town, who creates modern sustainable textiles with a strong emphasis on African story telling. You can’t buy her creations online yet but watch this space.
SIKA was founded in 2005 by creative director Phyllis Taylor with the vision that fashion has the power and potential to make a positive contribution to society. All SIKA garments are designed in London and handmade in Ghana (West Africa) by our skilled garment production team.
jakke was founded by East London Designer Nina Hopkins, who designs fun and vintage-inspired faux fur jackets and faux leather goods.
Established in August 2016, Kai Collective is a London-based womenswear brand of attainable clothing with luxury aesthetics founded by fashion and travel blogger, Fisayo Longe.
Launched at London Fashion Week 2020, this modest label created by Deborah Latouche focuses on occasion wear in luxurious fabrics.
andVerv is a London based contemporary womenswear brand. Eschewing ideas of trends or seasons, its intention is to create - with consideration - a continuous conversation with our woman.
Lisou is a London-based fashion brand specialising in beautiful silk pieces with a twist, founded by Tanzania-born Rene MacDonald.
WE ARE KIN is an emerging slow fashion label focused on creating an understated sense of sartorial refinement, aided by strong silhouettes, clean lines and statement staples that will elevate any closet.
John Tchoudi, founder of Sika’a, creates bold, handmade designs inspired by Africa and fashion from authentic fabrics.
Fe Noel is a womenswear designer from Brooklyn, and her feminine collections are inspired by her Grenadian heritage.
Frustrated by the lack of skin-tone choices to go with her ever-expanding wardrobe, Nubian Skin founder, Ade Hassan, decided it was time for ‘a different kind of nude’.
Founded 2007 by Sherri McMullen in Oakland, McMullen is an all inclusive concept shop for luxury womenswear featuring emerging and established designers from around the world.
Pyer Moss was founded in 2013 by Kerby Jean-Raymond. Jean-Raymond describes the brand as an “art project” or “a timely social experiment” at times. Pyer Moss aims to use its voice and platform to challenge social narratives and evoke dialogue.
Professional dancer Erin Carpenter founded her brand after never being able to find tights that provided the right shade of nude.
Created by Natalie Paul and Chelsea Williams, this sustainable swimwear brand aims to challenge the frustration of swimwear shopping by providing a range from XS to 3XL – across all styles.
This Florida-based Easy store finds rare vintage gems for you, from jewellery to bags and blouses.
The Folklore is an innovative online retail concept based in New York City, which stocks high-end and emerging designer brands from Africa and the diaspora, and serves as a cultural hub for contemporary brands, artists and creatives to showcase their personal stories.
Though not black-owned, AKOJO MARKET is a UK-based online platform which champions independent designers in Africa / brands based in the UK and Europe with artisan makers in Africa, for example Yala Jewellery (pictured, black-owned, UK-based and the first jewellery company to become a B-Corp) Each of the 32 brands has been carefully vetted and selected for their ethical mindset and positive impact on the communities around them.
Mimine Ag is a luxury couture brand based in London, with a recently launched Ready-To-Wear collection, focusing on bold, detailed pieces. The brand was created by Beninese-French designer Yasmine Agbantou.