On 25th May, George Floyd, an unarmed black man, was killed by a white police officer, leading to global protests in support of the Black Lives Matter movement and to remember the many lives tragically lost. On the 23rd August Jacob Blake was shot seven times by police in Wisconsin in front of his children and he remains in hospital in a critical condition. Protests against his shooting have taken over states and sports with the NBA, WNBA and tennis champion Naomi Osaka all protesting and either refusing to play or forfeit the season.
Online, people have been asking how they can champion equality beyond the little black squares of #BlackOutTuesday everyone shared in May, and while there is so much we can do, from educating ourselves to donating to worthy causes, one option is to put our money where our mouths are and support black-owned fashion brands and designers.
New York based Aurora James, founder of Brother Vellies, explained back in May on Instagram, that ‘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.’
Aurora James is asking that big retailers in the US to pledge 15% of their shelf space to black-owned brands (click to sign the petition to support here), and with 21% of black-owned businesses thinking they won’t survive the economic impact of the ongoing pandemic, there’s never been a better time to show your support.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Black Pound Day was masterminded by Swiss, former So Solid rapper, to champion Black-owned businesses and support the growth of the UK Black economy. The first took place on 27 June and the next is the 5th September.
The initiative aims to make UK shopping habits more inclusive by encouraging everyone to buy products and services from Black-owned businesses to continue the fight against racial inequality. Black-owned businesses are four times less likely to receive bank loans, credit cards and overdrafts. This institutional lack of access to capital means that black businesses are more likely to fail than their white counterparts, but together we can change this.
With that in mind, here are some incredible black-owned fashion brands to shop and support on Black Pound Day and beyond…
This eponymous billion dollar brand was founded by legendary make-up artist Pat McGrath. Affectionately referred to as the Mother of Makeup. #PATMcGRATHLABS is renowned for its avant-garde approach to beauty: expect richly-pigmented eyeshaddow’s, velvety lipsticks and the labels cult favourite foundations.
London-based duo Camille Perry and Holly Wright created their label TOVE to pool their experience in the fashion industry to create timeless clothing that balances modernity and femininity. Expect beautifully draped dresses and structured tops.
Toronto-native and New York City-transplant, Creative Director and Founder Aurora James founded Brother Vellies in 2013 with the objective to keep traditional African design practices, and techniques alive while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs. Her pieces are vintage-inspired and one-of-a-kind. Our Editor’s love the labels boots, sandals and heels.
Established in 2008 CUSHNIE is a luxury women’s ready-to-wear and bridal brand designed by Carly Cushnie. Founded on the desire to serve the modern woman expect structural silhouettes and carefully considered detailing. Our Editor’s love CUSHNIE’s chic wedding dresses, peplum tops, flared trousers and slinky silk bodysuits.
Founded by fashion editor and stylist Brittany Kozerski Jade Swim is a sustainable swimwear brand our Editor’s are besotted with. The labels minimal aesthetic is so flattering on all figures, expect chic one pieces and contemporary bikini tops and bottoms.
New York-based jewellery brand MATEO 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. Expect pearl adorned earrings, diamond adorned rings and earrings.
London based jewellery designer Emefa Cole works with 100% recycled gold and silver to create her unique designs which explore the notion of what lies beneath the surface. During her childhood in Ghana Emefa enjoyed folklore stories of people discovering gold nuggets washed up from the soil after heavy rains. Today, she uses traditional wax-casting techniques to layer precious metals and capture ‘the beauty of destruction through a natural peeling process that unveils different layers of precious metal over time.’
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’. Expect everything from hosiery to strapless bras and lacey lingerie sets.