In the midst of the Kavanaugh hearings, Jeremy Scott took the finale lap at his spring 2019 show in a t-shirt that urged viewers to “Tell Your Senator NO On Kavanaugh.” For his fall 2017 show, Christian Siriano sent a model down the runway in a shirt that read “People are People” set to Depeche Mode’s song of the same name. The week Harvey Weinstein was convicted of sexual assault and rape, Dior’s runway was peppered with signs like “Women Raise the Uprising” and “Consent.” If the fashion community has proven anything, it’s that it is willing to fight against inequality and social injustice. But what about the injustices plaguing its own industry, from the lack of Black representation on the runway to the lack of visibility and opportunities afforded to Black designers?
As the world grapples with the recent deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and Ahmaud Arbery—Black humans who were targeted and discriminated against because of their skin color—now is as good a time as ever to pour dollars into the Black designers, creatives, and businesses who are often overlooked. A re-post is not enough. A hashtag is not enough. But a purchase goes a long way. Ahead, 36 Black-owned brands to shop from today, tomorrow, and forever.
Parents aren’t normally a source for fashion inspiration, but sisters Darlene and Lizzy Okpo found a way to take their parents’ personal style and give it new life. William Okpo’s designs consist of breezy, feminine silhouettes with a dash of masculinity in soft, warm tones that serve as the foundation of any outfit.
If you buy one thing: Womanly Dress, US$375
James Flemons’ label Phlemuns is the saying, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak,” come to life. Phlemun’s is not for the faint of heart; the prints are loud, the cuts unexpected, and the designs unique. You’ll never encounter anyone with your exact outfit again. The brand counts Normani, Lizzo, and Billie Eilish as fans.
If you buy one thing: Sweatpant Cloud, US$155
Not all nudes are made equal, so Salone Monet gave us six different shades to choose from. Ranging from four-inch stilettos to two-inch kitten heels, each shoe comes in a satin finish for a luxurious touch to the simplest outfit.
If you buy one thing: Sable, US$295
The Amsterdam-based brand founded by friends Jefferson Osei, Hussein Suleiman, and Abderrahmane Trabsini fuses the trio’s own African heritage with contemporary aesthetics. Its minimalist approach diverts attention to bright palettes and prints.
If you buy one thing: Striped Reeser Shirt, US$103
Bold enough to wear a metallic, ankle-length mesh dress? What about an all-lace one-shoulder catsuit? If you answered yes, TLZ Femme is for you. The brand’s designs are for those who are unapologetic about their femininity and embrace every part of their bodies. Cardi B and Kylie Jenner are fans.
If you buy one thing: Black Fishnet Floor-Length Dress, US$198
Your vacation wardrobe isn’t complete without a Riot Swim swimsuit. The brand offers an array of sexy swim styles, but its bestseller is the Echo one-piece, which comes with a plunging v-neckline and high-leg cut.
If you buy one thing: Echo One Piece Kiwi, US$96
Tongoro is a sustainable Senegal-based brand that designs playful yet mature clothing and won’t break the bank. Each item is made in Africa, an intentional move to “foster the economic and social development of artisanal workers in western Africa,” according to the brand’s site.
If you buy one thing: Oshe Set, US$223
Diarra Blu, founded by Diarra Bousso, celebrates Africa’s rich colors and textures in modern designs. Fan favorites include the brand’s Convertible line, which features a dress and a jumpsuit with a flexible top that morphs into a multitude styles.
If you buy one thing: Sustainable Mailys Convertible Dress, US$225
Kerby Jean-Raymond’s brainchild has garnered a wave of recognition and support in recent years thanks to the designer’s powerful messaging woven into the threads of his collections and politically charged runway shows.
If you buy one thing: Wrap Sleeve Maxi Dress, US$550
Mateo New York
Founded by Matthew Harris, Mateo New York’s simple, elevated, everyday fine jewelry dips into dazzling diamonds and gemstones for the woman on the move.
If you buy one thing: 14-karat Gold Faceted Huggies, $325
LaQuan Smith designs for the It girls who don’t mind being the talk of the event. Each piece exudes sex appeal, including the signature mesh and sheer detailing and leg-baring designs that accentuate the female frame.
If you buy one thing: Animalia Catsuit, $695
Before pivoting to fashion, Rebecca Allen worked in finance. She couldn’t incorporate color into her outfits, but couldn’t find comfy nude shoes that matched her looks either. In an effort to aid others who faced the same dilemma, Allen launched her namesake label, which offers pumps, flats, and sandals in five different shades of nude.
If you buy one thing: The Skim Flat, $150
Brother Vellies is sustainable footwear founded by Aurora James. The brand is famous for its handmade shoes, which are produced by artisans from all over the world to celebrate their rich histories and cultures. Brother Vellies recently went viral for creating the snakeskin boots Jodie Turner-Smith’s Queen wore in Queen & Slim.
If you buy one thing: Woven Olivia Pump, $795
Telfar Clemens is the mastermind behind the handbag everyone can’t wait to get their hands on. The Telfar shopper tote comes in varying sizes and colors that sell out immediately folowing each release. Telfar also gives wardrobe classics like t-shirts and denim a modern twist.
If you buy one thing: Large Tan Shopping Bag, $257
Christopher John Rogers
When Christopher John Rogers made his runway debut in 2019, it was a spectacle. Really, his designs create the spectacle. Never one to shy away from voluminous silhouettes and blinding colors, CJR is perfect for anyone who wants to stand out in a crowd.
If you buy one thing: Drape Silk Tafeta Skirt, $1,975
Haitian-born designer Victor Glemaud focuses on knitwear that marries sporty and sexy together. Think runway-ready cut-out knit maxi dresses or cozy sweaters that appeal to everyone.
If you buy one thing: Maxi Dress, $595
Founded by Carly Cushnie, the brand is known for its sculptural, minimalist designs frequently worn by celebs like Rihanna, Ashley Graham, and Michelle Obama.
If you buy one thing: Navy Silk Crepe Strapless Gown with Silk Chiffon Layer, $878
Fear of God
Fear of God is in the upper echelon of streetwear. Founded by Jerry Lorenzo in 2013, the brand remains a classic in wardrobes for its timeless designs and sophisticated basics.
If you buy one thing: Hooded Raincoat, $648
Regardless of your location, Hanifa’s pieces will make you feel like you’re on vacation. Founded by Anifa Mvuemba, the brand’s vibrant colors and addictive designs are affordable and one-of-a-kind, especially its offshoot Pink Label.
If you buy one thing: Kinshasa Dress, $369
Tracy Reese dresses are the kind you wear to prance around a garden of gorgeous flowers—think breezy, bouncy, and dipped in beautiful floral prints.
If you buy one thing: Abstract Floral Tie-Back Dress, $328
No need to settle for your local drugstore’s cheap tights when Nude Barre has every flesh-tone shade imaginable.
If you buy one thing: Mocha Convertible Opaque Tights, $22
For many years, it was difficult to find undergarments that matched deeper skin tones. Nubian Skin, founded by Ade Hassan, makes it easy for women of color to find hosiery and lingerie in their skin shade.
If you buy one thing: Reversible High Waist Bikini Bottom, $100
Nigerian fashion designer Dumebi Iyamah launched Andrea Iyamah to celebrate the colors, cuts, and designs of African culture. Andrea Iyamah’s pieces are simple and modern—perfect for the adventurous traveler.
If you buy one thing: Wasuki High Waist Bikini, $163
The du-rag is a loungewear staple used to protect Black hair and usually worn inside the home. But Cheyenne Kimora’s iteration deserves to be displayed in a museum.
If you buy one thing: Pink Short Du-Rag, $175
When you see a Romeo Hunt piece, you see luxury and sophistication—which makes sense, since his pieces have graced the backs of women like Michelle Obama, Beyoncé, and Mary J. Blige.
If you buy one thing: Buffalo Checkered Varick Shawl, $1,795
Aminah Abdul Jillil
You can probably spot an Aminah Abdul Jillil shoe from a mile away. Sexy, strappy, and bedazzled—what more can a woman want?
If you buy one thing: Soleil Sandal White, $498
Oma the Label
Oma the Label began by providing basics with an elevated flair. Now, the brand is pivoting to luscious gold jewelry for everyday wear.
If you buy one thing: Ori Hoop, $79
Sincerely Tommy is a fresh breath of nostalgia. The brand is a cooler, updated version of your mother’s old wardrobe; think chunky ’90s slippers, high-waisted trousers, and sharp tailoring.
If you buy one thing: BYM White Slides, $105
You haven’t experience luxury until you slip on a Fenoel piece. Influenced by her Grenadian culture, founder Felisha Noel created a line that exudes glamour, culture, and femininity through rich color pairings and prints.
If you buy one thing: Mace Half Sleeve Tie Dress, $698
Jade Swim designs simple bathing suits, but they’re anything but boring. Each piece is carefully crafted using luxe fabric that hugs the body and protects against chlorine and other factors that could prevent long term wearability.
If you buy one thing: Apex One Piece, $198
Edas creates art for your ears. All pieces are made from home goods and refurbished elements hand-crafted with love by artisans.
If you buy one thing: Around The Way Ring, $58
Designers love to look to the past, but Tia Adeola’s fascination with the Renaissance period is the driving force behind all of her collections. Adeola began designing in her dorm room in 2017, creating frothy two-piece tulle sets that have become her signature.
If you buy one thing: Pearl Veil, $220
It all started with a jewelry-making book Morgan Thomas’s mother gave her when she was younger. After her mother’s death, Thomas launched Yam NYC to continue her legacy. Now, she makes upcycled jewelry both nostalgic and inventive.
If you buy one thing: Bonar Pearl Choker, $112
ReLove is a San Francisco-based vintage retailer offering a mix of vintage, designer, and independent labels at an affordable price. If you can’t swing by its brick-and-mortar location, you can always shop online.
If you buy one thing: Vintage Celine Leather Loafer, $125
Supermodel Liya Kebede launch the brand following a trip to her native Ethiopia. LemLem partners with artisan groups across Africa to expand production and provide jobs across Africa.
If you buy one thing: Eche Cascade Dress, $325
Want Les Essentials
Want Les Essentials was founded by twin brothers Byron and Dexter Peart with had a simple goal: “To simplify and elevate the life of the modern traveler.” The brand creates an array of no-fuss bags in varying shapes and sizes, from laptop bags to backpacks and coin purses.
If you buy one thing: Hartsfield Resin Coated Weekender Tote, $255