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This story appears in STYLECASTER’s Activism Issue, starring Jurnee Smollett. Click here for more.
Protest. Donate. Speak out on social media. Speak up in real life. There’s a lot you can do right now to fight racism, police brutality and discrimination, and while you’re at it, you can also shop from Black-owned fashion brands to support the community and elevate your wardrobe in the process. Black culture is an essential part of the fashion world today, influencing myriad trends and birthing many of the industry’s top designers, models, influencers and celebrities.
Of course, you should first spend your coin donating to anti-racist organizations and other charitable funds, but if you do decide you need a little retail therapy to cope with everything that’s going on in the world, make the effort to shop Black-owned brands whenever possible. And don’t act like you’re doing them a favor, either—they’re the ones that will be upping your style game. It’s a privilege to shop them!
First and foremost, there are the brands you’ve definitely heard of before. Designer labels like Cushnie, LaQuan Smith and Christopher John Rogers that make waves during Fashion Month and beyond. Then, the influencer favorites, ranging from footwear line Brother Vellies to lingerie brand Love, Vera. Then, there are the hidden gems, from Dareales to NL The Label. It’s possible you’re unfamiliar with many of these brands, and that’s OK. There’s no time like the present to show your support for Black entrepreneurs, whether you’re an ally, like myself, or a member of the community.
The good news? You’re going to love what you purchase, as we’ve rounded up 25 incredible Black-owned brands to shop. Read on to find your new faves, and don’t forget to follow and support on social media even if you can’t place an order.
1. Brother Vellies
If handmade artisanal footwear is what you seek, Brother Vellies is the brand to lust over. Their globally-made pieces, commitment to fair labor practices, and use of traditional African design practices make their luxurious products well worth the splurge.
I’ve been wanting to buy the Cloud Sweat Pants from PHLEMUNS for quite some time, and today is the day I finally press Add To Cart. The site is overflowing with clothes and accessories just begging to be Instagrammed—and BTW, they even sell fashionable, protective cloth face masks.
Monrowe create hats that double as “crowns for the modern (wo)man,” inspired by the legacy of jazz musicians from the American south. These handmade, one-of-a-kind pieces are the ultimate finishing touch to any outfit.
Carly Cushnie created namesake label Cushnie with the goal of creating streamlined, minimalist pieces that celebrate and embrace the female form. You’ve no doubt seen your fave fashionistas rocking their dresses, including household names like Michelle Obama, Beyoncé and Lupita Nyong’o, just to name-drop a major few.
5. Salone Monet
Salone Monet believe that nude is not a color, so they created a brand that allows women of every color to find their perfect “nude” heels. At present, there are six shades per shoe to choose from, and the styles themselves are made with care by Italian cobblers.
6. Christopher John Rogers
You might remember pretty much everyone in fashion obsessing over Christopher John Rogers‘ Fall 2020 Ready-To-Wear Collection, and that’s because his designs are truly special. Known for vivid colors and creative silhouettes and texture, the CJR line can be purchased online exclusively at Net-A-Porter.
7. Zou Xou
Need a new pair of summer sandals? Zou Xou has you covered, with handmade styles intended to be received as “modern essentials.” Crafted by Argentinian shoemakers using premium leathers, these are certainly not the sort of trendy shoes that will last you only a season.
8. Renowned LA
Renowned LA is designer streetwear dreamt up by creative directors John Dean and Duje Stojak, made for people who use their clothes to express themselves. Their designs are as beautiful as they are wearable—I’ve got my eye on the yellow tie-dye bomber.
Sade Mims is the head designer of EDAS, an accessory brand offering unique handmade jewelry and handbags. The majority of their one-of-a-kind pieces are currently available for pre-order only due to coronavirus-related concerns, so shop now to support a wonderful business and give yourself something to look forward to.
10. Tree Fairfax
Tree Fairfax is your new go-to for hand-stitched leather goods. Made with locally-sourced, high-quality leather, Tree Fairfax cuts down on waste by using leather hides with what other brands might deem as “natural imperfections.” Rest assured, these minor flaws in no way make their gorgeous bags any less beautiful.
Dareales‘ brick-and-mortar store was unfortunately looted during the recent riots, so while the majority of the pieces on their website are sold out at the moment, I highly encourage throwing them a follow and placing an order once more of their streetwear styles come back in stock. The brand is known for their track pants, sweats, hoodies and jerseys, and promote a motto of “Individuality without sacrifice.”
VAVVOUNE is yet another wonderful Black-owned leather accessories brand, and holy moly, my wishlist just increased by two or three purses. Designed in Brooklyn and made in NYC’s famed Garment District, a VAVVOUNE handbag is certainly the kind of extra-special piece you’ll want to show off.
13. Love, Vera
If you’re in need of affordable lingerie that makes you look (and feel!) like a million bucks, look no further than Love, Vera. The brand boasts a size-inclusive range of lingerie, bras, robes and other unmentionables, and is designed to be a celebration of Black cultural influence and Black female entrepreneurship.
14. LaQuan Smith
LaQuan Smith began his namesake label at the age of 21 in Queens, New York. Since then, his designs have been worn by major celebrities including Beyoncé, Rihanna and Lady Gaga, as well as a worldwide private order clientele. If you’re looking to splurge on a standout piece, you know what brand to shop.
15. NL The Label
If you’re the kind of person that likes to walk into the room wearing the outfit no one has seen before, but everyone immediately wants, Nichole Lynel’s unique designs for NL The Label will be right up your alley. From sequined short sets to denim corsets to fringe like you’ve never seen before, you won’t be able to resist Lynel’s fashion-forward creations.
16. Nubian Skin
Nubian Skin was created when founder Ade Hassan realized “nude” hosiery and bras for all women (women of color in particular) was far from easily accessible. The range features four neutrals curated to compliment deeper skin tones—Berry, Caramel, Cinnamon, and Cafe Au Lait—and includes everything from briefs to bodysuits to tights and even swimwear.
17. Mint Swim
Speaking of swimwear, Mint Swim should be your new go-to this season! The Black-owned brand boasts some of the cutest bikinis I’ve ever seen on Instagram (or at the beach, but I know why you’re really buying them!) and everything on their site is under $100.
18. Oma The Label
Oma The Label describes its brand aesthetic as falling “at the corner of sexy and sweet.” Shop a range of beautiful jewelry as well as trendy tops and bodysuits, and follow their Instagram for frequent sneak peeks at new pieces coming soon.
Designer Lorrell Gold’s LORR aims to promote a bold yet minimalist aesthetic that puts a nontraditional spin on classic silhouettes. The brand offers everything from sweats to denim to armor-inspired chest pieces that make your regular ol’ fanny pack look basic AF.
20. DES PIERROT
DES PIERROT is designed and made in the United States, and the pieces are the perfect meld of streetwear silhouettes and avant-garde accents. Think fitted mesh tops with extra-long sleeves, hoodies with cape-like necklines, and the coolest denim jacket you’ve ever seen.
Olori specializes in gorgeous Africa-inspired handbags, and they give back with every single order placed. For every bag purchased, Olori donates a percentage of profits to the education of underprivileged girls in Africa. Olori means “queen,” which is exactly what you’ll feel like when you rock one of the brand’s beautiful designs.
Not only is D’IYANU a gorgeous, clothing brand whose designs are Africa-inspired, but they’re also size-inclusive, with options from size small through 3XL. So no matter your size, you can enjoy these incredible pieces designed by the founder of D’IYANU, Addie Elabor.
23. Fe Noel
With the motto “Eat well, travel often, and dress to inspire,” you know Brooklyn-based womenswear brand Fe Noel is going to have an incredible selection of clothing—and they most definitely do. Inspired by her Grenadian heritage, the founder of Fe Noel, Felisha “Fe” Noel is able to combine but culture and glamour in the chicest ways.
24. Studio 189
Based in both the US and Ghana, Studio 189 is a fashion lifestyle brand created by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah. Their clothes are gorgeous—especially the dresses, friends—all made in Africa and sustainable. Do yourself a favor and purchase your next ensemble from Studio 189.
25. Andrea Iyama
Get ready to discover your latest obsession in Andrea Iyama, because all of the designs from are unmatched. The brand was founded in 2011 by Nigerian-born Dumebi Iyamah, who’s inspired by ethnic cultures, color and nature. All of these inspirations are definitely present when you peruse her gorgeous swimwear, dresses and other stunning clothing pieces.