The U.S. protests against systemic racism have spread around the globe, with millions of people marching together over the fact that black men and women are still facing discrimination because of the colour of their skin. And that people like Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Elijah McClain have been killed by police without the officers responsible facing enough — if any —prosecution or accountability.

Frustrated and angry, many of us turned to social media to express our solidarity for the people whose lives are continually impacted by racism.

But posting black squares to Instagram on #BlackoutTuesday is not enough, nor is a hashtag.

At The Last Fashion Bible, we often talk about using your purchase power to shop brands that support ethical or environmental best practice. Now, more than ever, it is important to recognise the positive impact your dollar can make.

So, use your purchase power to support Black designers and encourage diversity in fashion. We’ve compiled a list of some of our favourite 21 Black-owned fashion labels that you can shop to help make a long-lasting, positive impact.

Aliétte

Stylist to the stars Jason Rembert has been responsible for flawless red-carpet moments featuring Issa Rae, Erykah Badu and Ezra Miller, showcasing inventive, boundary-pushing fashions. With his own line, Aliétte, he brings that aesthetic sensibility to women everywhere.

 

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💚💚💚

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Andrea Iyamah

Strongly influenced by designer Dumebi Iyamah’s African heritage, Andrea Iyamah incorporates different patterns and brights colours common in Nigerian culture and fashion to give swimwear a retro-inspired twist. Plus, Iyamah sells gorgeous wedding and special events gowns through her brand Andrea Iyamah Bride.

Brother Vellies

Aurora James launched Brother Vellies in 2013, a luxury footwear label which aims to keep traditional African design practices and techniques alive, employing artisans from across the African continent (including Kenya, South Africa and Namibia) to work on the designs, which are all sustainably and ethically created, each shoe standing as a love letter to the towns and villages where they were produced.

Aurora James, founder and designer, recently created the 15 Percent Pledge as a call to action to major retailers like Target, Whole Foods, and Sephora to dedicate 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses as a way to better represent overlooked talent.

 

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Classic Fluff 🤍 Bringing back our Lamu Sandals, made with love in Ethiopia and Kenya.

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Christopher John Rogers

Louisiana-born Christopher John Rogers is one of the big new names on the block, having won a CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Award late last year, before going on to launch his spring collection on Net-a-Porter just a few months ago.

Embracing the brightest colours and the most unique and voluminous shapes, there is little surprise that Rogers has managed to make such a splash in such a short space of time, now boasting fans such as Tracee Ellis Ross and Rihanna.

Cushnie

Founded by Carly Cushnie in 2018, her eponymous brand is known for sculptural, minimalist designs worn by celebs including Rihanna, Ashley Graham and Michelle Obama.

“As a woman, I understand what my customer wants from her clothes,” she said.  “I’ve grown and evolved alongside her over the past 10 years, and I strive to present her with timeless silhouettes that make her feel sexy, sophisticated, and powerful — all at once.”

Daily Paper

Daily Paper is an Amsterdam-based men’s and womenswear brand founded by the three friends Jefferson Osei, Abderrahmane Trabsini, and Hussein Suleiman. Fusing the trio’s African heritage with modern design aesthetics, its minimalist approach diverts attention to bright palettes and prints.

Duro Olowu

Often referred to as “the prince of prints”, London-based Nigerian designer Duro Olowu is beloved by many A-listers. Notable among them include Michelle Obama, Solange Knowles and Iris Apfel.

“My prints are inspired by my Nigerian, Jamaican, and British backgrounds, as well as my love of art,” he said in an interview to promote his collab with Estee Lauder. “Over the years, I have developed a curatorial and enthusiastic knowledge of historic and contemporary fabrics and textiles from all over the world.”

Hanifa

Teen Vogue “Generation Next” alum Anifa Mvuemba launched Hanifa in 2012 and has been releasing ever since. The Congolese designer recently made headlines for showing her new collection on Instagram Live via 3-D models — an innovative move that she had planned before the stay-at-home orders.

Heron Preston

Known for his workwear-inspired designs, San-Francisco-born designer Heron Preston has worked with all the streetwear giants, from Kanye West to Nike and Virgil Abloh. Now, Preston, a CFDA Emerging Designer of the Year nominee, shows his collections during Paris Fashion Week and is beloved by A-listers including Ariana Grande and Gigi Hadid.

 

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Kerwin, in the OG roll over turtleneck. 2016

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Hope For Flowers

Created by iconic designer Tracy Reese, Hope For Flowers is a womenswear label that’s wholly dedicated to designing clothing without adding to the environmental impact of the fashion industry, encouraging women to be “a part of doing good while looking good.”

Kenneth Ize

Kenneth Ize was catapulted to the fashion stage after becoming an LVMH prize finalist. Since then, the Austrian-Nigerian designer has shown at Paris and Lagos Fashion Week. During the latter, Naomi Campbell and Imaan Hammam both not only supported Ize’s Nigerian-inspired designs, but modelled them. He works with artisans in Nigeria to preserve centuries-old weaving techniques, merging a specifically local handcraft practice with a contemporary design aesthetic and new production skills.

Maki Oh

Designer Amaka Osakwe has fans in high places and was personally invited to the White House after Michelle Obama wore one of her designs in Johannesburg. Another finalist for the LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers, Maki Oh blends African craftsmanship (like adire, Nigerian cloth dyeing) with classic European silhouettes to celebrate empowerment and convey emotion.

“Clothing used to be a form of communication,” she told Fast Company. “Cloth would allow you to make a statement, like, ‘I’m happy that you’re here,’ or ‘I’m sorry about what I did earlier.’ ” And though none of her womenswear pieces are currently available, her men’s pieces convey the same sentiment.

Nichole Lynel

Nichole Lynel is an independent fashion designer who turned her clothing line, Shop Nichole Lynel, into a million-dollar lifestyle brand. The young entrepreneur has two fashion businesses; her namesake brand, which offers fun wardrobe must-haves, and NL The Label. Consider the latter as the cool, older sister whose closet consists of both destroyed denim trimmed in rhinestone fringe and an elegant nude pantsuit — basically everything a younger sibling would want to borrow.

 

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Oma the Label

Oma The Label is a clothing and accessories brand slinging sexy statement staples. The brand was created in 2018 by New York-based stylist Neumi Anekhe who saw a need for more brands representing people of colour at affordable prices. Trust us, you’ll want everything.

 

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Like we always say, you’ve asked and we’ve listened.The OBI HOOP is now back in stock, get it while it lasts!🤍🤎🖤

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PHLEMUNS

With fans including Paloma Elsesser and Lil Nas X, L.A.-based, gender-inclusive brand PHLEMUNS is the label to know right now. James Flemons, the designer behind the Gen Z favourite fashion brand is more interested in creating a community with longevity, rather than just clothing.

“I treat the clothes as these timeless stamps that will last,” he says on his website. “It’s like I’m leaving breadcrumbs of myself that will exist forever.”

Pyer Moss

In 2018 Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder of Pyer Moss, won the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, the most prestigious prize awarded to an emerging designer in the U.S. The Haitian-American has always been a proponent of inclusivity and activism in fashion and is an outspoken proponent of capturing the Black American experience within his clothes. Subsequently, he has created garments featuring slogans like “STOP CALLING 911 ON THE CULTURE” and “Fix Your Credit Pool Money Buy Back The Block.”

According to Vanity Fair, his last September show, for example, was dedicated to uncovering “stories of black peoples’ contribution to popular American culture.”

 

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T Magazine — Collection 3 Photographed by Michelle Sank. Styled by Jason Rider. Story by M.H. Miller. @nytimes @tmagazine

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Romeo Hunte

Brooklyn-based Romeo Hunte counts A-listers like Beyoncé and Zendaya as fans — no surprise given the brand’s mix of timeless silhouettes in unexpected designs and its coveted outwear styles. He founded his eponymous label in 2013 with the vision to create modern, classic apparel that is luxurious, practical and transitional.

 

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❄️”Icy Girl” Saweetie serving from head to toe in our custom yellow boxy suit. ⠀ COOGI X RH #romeohunte⠀

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Studio One Eighty Nine

CFDA Lexus Sustainable Fashion Award-winning brand Studio 189 was founded by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah to help City of Joy, a centre for women affected by sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The fashion company features ready-to-wear pieces fashioned out of ethical fabrics and using natural dyes. Headquartered in Ghana, the brand works with local artisans in these communities to produce African and African-inspired apparel and accessories.

 

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A work of art • @rosariodawson 📷 @renellaice #studio189 #fashionrising

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Telfar

Telfar Clemens started Telfar in 2005, saying from the beginning that his line is for everyone. The brand has a cult following, thanks to its sleek logo bag which has been dubbed “Bushwick Birkin.” The brand’s motto pretty much sums up its aesthetic: “It’s not for you — it’s for everyone.”

Thebe Magugu

In 2019, Thebe Magugu was the first designer from Africa to be awarded the LVMH Prize. This past February, he recently made his runway debut during Paris Fashion Week, where he presented a collection with modern takes on shirting, colourful prints and elegant dresses.

His namesake label is a contemporary womenswear brand that is inspired and defined by South Africa, where he intends to build his business, keeping the entire production cycle on the continent.

 

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3 Figures on Flamingo Dam// @vogueparis

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Tia Adeola

Nigeria-born, London-raised, and New York-based designer Teniola “Tia” Adeola began designing in her Parsons dorm room in 2017, under the name Slashed by Tia. Fashion-conscious celebrities took note — Gigi Hadid wore a tangerine-coloured creation a few years back, and the likes of SZA and Kali Uchis have since followed suit.

Adeola has since changed her brand name from Slashed by Tia to her moniker Tia Adeola as a reflection of a more ambitious, expanded vision for her designs. Tia Adeola also made her official solo runway debut at New York Fashion Week AW 2020 where she revealed the name change.

Wales Bonner

Grace Wales Bonner launched her label Wales Bonner in 2014, winning the prestigious LVMH Prize, the Fashion Award for Emerging Talent and the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund in 2019. The UK-based men’s and women’s wear designer embraces soft silhouettes and impeccable tailoring that explore her European and African heritage and history, using her designs as a direct response to notions of race and gender.

Over the past few years, she has collaborated with the likes of Dior and has been worn by some of the most famous women in the world. She was notably chosen by Meghan, Duchess of Sussex for her first post-pregnancy appearance when she introduced her son Archie to the world.

Whether shopping for sleek ready-to-wear, straight-up high-fashion gowns or streetwear, by supporting black-owned fashion labels you can make difference by voting with your dollar. Representation of black designers in the industry is growing, but we have a long way to go for equality in the fashion world.

Main image: Courtesy of Maki Oh.

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