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With every Black History Month comes the call to support Black-owned businesses across industries, especially when it comes to fashion. And while it’s a welcomed call, it can often underestimate just how impactful it can be to support Black-owned fashion brands year round, opening opportunities for further investment, access to resources, and sustainable growth.
Aurora James, founder of accessories brand Brother Vellies, put the idea into collective action during the summer of 2020, following the protests honoring George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. Coined the 15 Percent Pledge, James called for major retailers and start ups alike to commit 15 percent of their shelf space (virtual and otherwise) to Black-owned businesses. Today brands like Sephora, Madewell, and Macy’s are on board.
“Small businesses can turn into bigger ones. Real investment will start happening in Black businesses which will subsequently be paid forward into our Black communities,” James shared on Instagram. Similarly over the summer, Beyoncé launched the “Black Parade” on her website, a directory of Black-owned businesses to support across fashion, beauty, tech, and more.
For individuals, the conscious decision to follow suit on a personal level — buying from and amplifying Black-owned businesses — has just as profound an impact when it comes to economic equality, especially when it comes to the overflowing options in the fashion space. Beyond the impact of your support, Black designers and artists are behind some of fashions most exciting, on-trend, and innovative pieces fashion has to offer today, doing your closet a favor in return.
From brands that have been around for over a decade, like Telfar and Victor Glemaud, to new labels bringing their fresh perspectives to uniform dressing, occasion-wear, jewelry, leather goods and so much more, there is surely no shortage of talent. Ahead, discover 21 Black-owned fashion brands to shop and tell your friends about, all ranging in aesthetic, price point, and vision.
Brother Vellies, an accessories brand founded by Aurora James, works to not only honor traditional African design practices and techniques, but to create sustainable jobs for artisans across South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Morocco. In addition to the brand’s handcrafted statement shoes and handbags, Brother Vellies launched a thoughtful edit of products for your home and life in 2020, including comfy cloud socks and mugs made of local Oaxacan clay, all made in collaboration with various creators and artisans.
Rooted in femininity, personal style, and quality craftsmanship, New York City-based Edas is behind some of today’s most intriguing and unique accessories. Founded by artist and designer Sade Mims, the brand’s structural handbags and intricately beaded bucket hats are loved by celebrities and fashion insiders alike — and with one look at its site, it’s not hard to see why. Through its mainstay pieces and limited runs alike, Mims has ignited a fresh creativity that many mainstream fashion brands have long forgotten about.
Christopher John Rogers
A refreshing breakout in New York City’s fashion scene, Christopher John Rogers has captivated the industry — and the people — with his striking colors, voluminous silhouettes, and full-on whimsy. Most recently, the designer had the honor of dressing Vice President Kamala Harris in a full look for the historic 2021 Presidential inauguration.
Jade Swim is a no-brainer for those looking for unique, luxe swimwear styles that were thoughtfully designed and cut to hug and sculpt the body. Founded by former fashion editor and stylist Brittany Kozerski, each collection explores both her minimalist taste and innovative silhouettes and color stories.
For those looking for fresh takes on minimal, leather pieces, look no further than Ashya. Founded in New York City by Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece in 2017, the brand is a self proclaimed “ode to exploration,” looking to travel, cultural diversity, and quality artisan work to inspire and inform its offering of functional, multi-purpose accessories.
Launched in 2006, Hatian-born designer Victor Glemaud’s eponymous label has become a celebrity favorite over the years — on the likes of Mindy Kaling and Dakota Johnson — for its innovative, colorful, and size-inclusive knitwear.
Launched in 2005, Telfar is the eponymous clothing and accessories line of Liberian-American designer and NYC fashion staple Telfar Clemens. Seeing runaway success with its seemingly always sold out logo shopping bags, the brand is rooted in a democratic, accessible, and unisex approach to clothing — cemented by its motto, “NOT FOR YOU — FOR EVERYONE.”
The Brooklyn-raised Jamaican and Chinese designer founded and continues to grow his namesake contemporary accessories label with a focus on timeless silhouettes, quality detailing, and accessibility — with many of his most popular offerings available under $100. Following the wave of civil rights protests honoring George Floyd and Black Lives Matter in the summer of 2020, the designer released mini totes that read, “End Systemic Racism,” in silver hardware, boosting the brand even further into fashion consciousness.
Based in Brooklyn, designer Fe Noel created her namesake label to celebrate the working women who see no luxury too indulgent — from good food to memorable travel and dressing up for the fun of it. Heavily influenced by Noel’s Caribbean heritage, Fe Noel’s collection are full of vibrant colors, inviting illustrations, and whimsical fabrics that’ll have you dreaming of your next beach vacation.
Founded by London-based menswear designer Martine Rose, her eponymous label has become a cult favorite since its launch in 2007 for its modern exploration on proportion, silhouettes, textures, cultural references, and gender fluidity.
In 2016, Jameel Mohammed launched modern luxury jewelry brand Khiry, featuring designs inspired by the African diaspora and elevating the conversation of Black life and culture.
Phlemuns, founded by Los Angeles-based designer James Flemons in 2013, aims to bridge the gap between high fashion and everyday life by following an inclusive, unisex, and slow approach to production and design. Disregarding seasonal fashion calendars, Phlemuns releases collections on its own time, with a focus on reimagined and reconstructed knit and denim basics.
Pyer Moss, a men’s and women’s fashion label, was founded by Kerby Jean-Raymond in 2013. Through its captivating and wearable designs, the brand aims to use its platform and resources to evoke thoughtful dialogue and challenge social narratives, in and out of fashion.
Named after her eldest daughter, designer and maker Hleziphansi Zita created jewelry brand Nandi Naya, offering pieces inspired by architecture, modern women, and Zita’s cultural stories and experiences as a product of the South African diaspora. All handmade, Nandi Naya’s collections are full of special, heirloom-worthy necklaces, earrings, and more.
Founded by Anifa Mvuemba in 2013, Hanifa continues to raise the bar through its captivating, curve-accentuating designs — offered in sizes 0 through 20 — and its innovative use of technology, most recently hosting a whimsical 3D digital fashion show for its Pink Label Congo collection.
Laquan Smith took the lessons he learned in pattern making and sewing from his grandmother to create one of fashion’s most exciting and youthful occasion labels in 2013. Today, his eponymous brand is beloved by celebrities like Beyonce, Rihanna, Kim Kardashian, and so many more.
Coco and Breezy Eyewear
Coco and Breezy Eyewear was founded in 2009 by twin designers, DJs, and visual artists Corianna and Brianna Dotson. Naturally, the funky frames — both optical and sun — were a hit in the fashion and entertainment worlds, and continue to be to this day.
Calling all minimal, uniform dressers. Women’s ready-to-wear label RE ONA was born out of the belief that clothing should be transitional, comfortable, and functional; season-less pieces that can be worn from morning to night. Consciously produced in small batches to eliminate waste, the brand designs in Toronto, Canada, while ethically manufacturing in Bangladesh.
Founded by Ashley Ciriaco, the New York City-based accessories brand merges classic silhouettes with an undeniable It factor — as made clear by its debut style, the Ashley Minimalist Baguette. Made of vegan leather, Ciriaco takes playfulness and functionality to the next level.
Founded by self taught artisan and designer Valerie Blaise, Vavvoune is a luxury leather accessories brand inspired by functionality and nostalgia. From its structural totes to multi-functional belt bags, all of Vavvoune’s pieces are designed and manufactured in New York City.
The Amsterdam-based fashion brand started off as a lifestyle blog shared between three childhood friends, focused on their love of music, art, fashion, and culture. Today, the brand offers functional, wearable, and contemporary clothing for men, women, and children, influenced by African culture.
Chelsea Paris was born in 2012 as a way for its founder, designer Theresa Ebagua, to create a luxury ode to her African heritage. Named after Ebagua’s daughters, the brand seamlessly merges iconic European craftsmanship with African-inspired designs, colors, and prints, resulting in a collection of both staples and statement styles.