In order to not only preach but also truly practice true equality, the fashion industry must hold itself accountable for a lack of diversity through the years and acknowledge the countless accusations of cultural appropriation and racism. There is no other option. As the nation protested in response to the killing of George Floyd during the summer of 2020, long-overlooked issues affecting Black communities came to light, forcing the world to reckon with the historical mistreatments they’ve been subjected to. While many companies professed their commitment to antiracism and outlined steps to increase Black representation on their teams and invest in Black talent, Brother Vellies’s Aurora James was one of the first to actually do something about it. The fashion designer demanded a pledge from large companies to buy 15 percent of products from Black businesses. A long list of corporations have since responded, answering the call to invest in Black founders.
If you’ve been thinking about what it means to be an ally, shopping these brands is just a start.
This is only a step in the right direction. When we say that these are the fashion designers you should know about, that doesn’t just mean you should remember their names. Follow them and their career paths — most of the clothes, accessories, and jewelry they design are incredibly unique, and so many of them are also made ethically — spread their names the way the CFDA has for many of them, rally behind their talent, and remember that this is just a small ask. “You want to be an ally? This is what I’m asking for,” James wrote in her Instagram post. If you’ve been thinking about what it means to be an ally, shopping these brands is just a start.
You may already have these Black-owned fashion brands on your radar, or you may have shopped from them before. Consider doing so on an ongoing basis as a personal commitment to making the fashion world a more equitable place. This list is in no way exhaustive, but it does feature some incredibly cool and highly covetable products from a variety of founders. Get ready to bookmark these.
— Additional reporting by Shelcy Joseph