Diversity and inclusion are (finally) a growing focus in the fashion world. Designers, specifically those of Black-owned clothing brands, have long been overlooked in the space despite influencing the fashion industry for years on end. Now that more creatives are getting the recognition they deserve, it’s important for us to highlight Black-owned brands and fashion designers to support now and forever.
From NYC-based labels to those all the way in London and Africa, these Black-owned clothing brands continue to move the needle and push the culture through style and activism. With the Black Lives Matter movement still fresh in our minds, these brands make it possible to continue supporting the Black community through our style choices and beyond.
“It’s not for you—it’s for everyone” is the Telfar motto, which explains why Telfar’s designed are known for their high-end touch at more accessible price points. While the “Brooklyn Birkin” made quite the splash in 2020, success was a slow burn; in fact, Telfar Clemens launched the unisex label back in 2005. Aside from the brand’s infamous Shopping Bag purses—which are constantly sold out—you can still stock up on t-shirts, hoodies, jewelry, and shoes.
If these dresses look familiar, it’s because Kylie Jenner nearly broke the internet (again) when she wore Farai London‘s Gaia Mini Dress. Designer MaryAnn Msengi only launched the brand last summer, making it all the more impressive that it’s now available at retailers like Revolve and Selfridges. She offers vacation-ready pieces with abstract swimsuits, mesh cover-ups, bodysuits, and a range of popular dresses that look like a work of art.
On the hunt for elevated basics? That’s where Re Ona comes into the picture. From cropped ribbed cardigans to cotton tees, bodycon dresses, joggers, and more, you’re bound to find new wardrobe staples when browsing the line. The luxe basics come at a more affordable price point, too, so they can have a place in everyone’s closet.
Both shoppers and designers are putting more thought into the processes behind making clothes and, importantly, their impact on the environment. Among them is Samaria Leah, who was inspired to launch a sustainable denim brand by her own passion for reworking vintage pieces. After altering her own jeans for years, she launched her own line to fill the void—and celebs like Saweetie quickly took notice.
Model Monti Landers launched Riot Swim in 2016 with the idea that everyone should have access to swimwear coverage that makes them feel comfortable. The brand makes sexy and functional pieces for all body types, sizes, and skin tones. Shoppers can also browse based on coverage preferences, so you can add everything from extra cheeky bottoms to high-waisted one pieces to your cart.
Designer Aurora James set out to make head-turning footwear and accessories when launching Brother Vellies in 2013, and she did exactly that. The luxury brand takes pride in using African craftsmanship practices that have been passed down for generations. Today, you can still find James designing shoes from vegetable-tanned leather—but you’ll also spot her on Vogue covers or making headlines at the Met Gala.
Kerby Jean-Raymond launched Pyer Moss in 2013 with diversity and inclusion at the forefront. (Exhibit A: His runway show during New York Fashion Week in 2018 kicked off with a powerful message when the phrase “Stop Calling 911 on the Culture” was emblazoned on a T-shirt.) Since then, the designer has continued to call out the industry and shed light on the lack of recognition that Black designers face—despite being pioneers and influences in the space.
Nude shades aren’t universal, and while we’ve seen more skin-tone inclusivity in categories like shapewear and lingerie, Salone Monet tackles it in the shoe department. The brand makes it possible to rock a pair of heels that matches your shade of nude, with each style available in six hues ranging from fair to deep brown.
Jade Swim is both Glamour editor-approved and designed by a former Vogue fashion editor and stylist, Brittany Kozerski, who set out to create a line of chic and minimalist swimwear with versatility in mind. Featuring asymmetrical details, sleek one-pieces, and moody colors, the pieces work as well on the beach as they do at dinner as part of your favorite outfit.
“Less is more” is the vibe when you’re scrolling through Local European‘s offerings. Alexandra Bunch launched Local European in 2019 with the goal of creating garments that were high-quality and could be worn time and time again. The many minimalist silhouettes with a hint of ~edge~ include backless dresses, string bikinis, utilitarian pants, and more.
When Beyoncé features you on her site, you *know* you’re the real deal. Kai Collective‘s Gaia dress in particular took IG by storm—in fact, you might have spotted it already on celebrities and influencers alike. Even better? The brand’s infamous swirled print is now found on the brand’s leggings, swimwear, shirts, gloves, and more—all at budget-friendly price points.
Essentials by Fear of God
Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God is beloved by streetwear aficionados. Proof? Nearly every drop sells out. The same goes for its more affordable sister brand, Essentials, and getting your hands on its crewnecks, sweatpants, sweatshirts, and sneakers is no easy feat. Keep your eyes open and you might just find your new must-have available in your size—then add to cart, stat.
Once designer Brandon Blackwood dropped totes with the phrase “End Systemic Racism” splashed across the front—and at the height of 2020’s civil unrest, not coincidentally—they immediately sold out. While the OG tote is still out of stock, you can still snag Blackwood’s other designs, including leather and suede handbags, wallets, card holders, and more, in eye-popping colors.
Futuristic designs are front and center with LaQuan Smith‘s pieces. From cutout catsuits to mesh-paneled leggings and more, the Queens, New York native knows how to turn heads and catch the attention of celebrities like Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, and more.
House of Aama
Mother-daughter duo Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka re-branded House of Aama in 2017 (from its original name, Urban Nomad) to introduce a more sophisticated line that still highlights their cultural identities. Through the clothing’s fabric and design, African roots are embedded into every piece.
Inspired by her Grenadian heritage, designer Felisha “Fe” Noel set out to create clothing with bold prints and vibrant hues in every piece. And it’s clear from her designs that she wants to make our closets (and our lives) feel a little more beautiful—think dramatic sleeves, structural blazers, swimwear, and wide-leg pants meet architectural cuts, floral prints, and more.
KIN By Kristie
Kristine Thompson has amplified plus-size fashion since launching her blog Trendy Curvy in 2013, and her love for everyday pieces and passion for inclusivity in the womenswear led her to create KIN. Thompson wanted to prove that being trendy and curvy can go hand in hand, and from the looks of it, she’s done just that.
“For women, by women” is at the heart of lingerie brand Liberté, and designer Amber Tolliver wants people to know it. Aiming to honor the “craft(wo)manship” of seamstresses, Liberté offers comfort, support, and truly ~luxe~ Italian fabrics in every design.
In a world where fast fashion still dominates, it’s refreshing to see handcrafted, time-tested footwear take up space. Zou Xou‘s collections are limited, as each pair is handmade by Venezuelan artisans—but (clearly) worth the wait. You can browse the styles, such as strappy block heels to classic loafers, when they’re available to shop or still in production.
Sustainability is top of mind when it comes to Bronté Laurent: The label sources recycled materials and prioritizes eco-friendly packaging so you can feel as good about your purchases as you do when wearing them. It achieved the eponymous designer’s goal of making women feel so comfortable in their clothes that they’ll never want to take them off.
Available in sizes extra small to 3XL, Hanifa prides itself in offering a full ready-to-wear capsule collection for women of all shapes and sizes. Cutout dresses, cozy cardigans, and breezy jumpsuits paired with pops of color (think neon green, orange, and fuchsia) are all part of the need-to-have lineup.
Friends Camille Perry and Holly Wright launched London-based Tov in 2019—and quickly gained the attention of minimalists everywhere. Despite enduring a global pandemic in a critical second year in business, Tove’s clean finishes and feminine silhouettes have earned the brand a loyal following.
Hope for Flowers by Tracy Reese
Tracy Reese is no stranger to the fashion game; her bold and vibrant prints have graced runways and storefronts for years. Her latest line, Hope for Flowers, prioritizes sustainability by using materials that cause minimal harm to the environment and sourcing ethical textiles that require less water for production.
Comfort for every woman is the simplest way to describe the Taylor Jay brand. With a variety of cozy sets, knitted dresses, cotton bodysuits, and stretchy pants, the pieces are not only WFH-appropriate, but functional enough for stepping out in. Brunch in a flowy maxi dress? Say less.
Honor the Gift
The more you know: Russell Westbrook of the Los Angeles Lakers is actually the creative director behind athleisure brand Honor the Gift. His line of understated T-shirts, fleeces, face masks, accessories, and shorts for everyone—even kids—is all about elevating everyday basics.
Morenikeji Abina sought to honor her Nigerian roots with Rendoll, which is produced in Lagos with body positivity in mind. Her elevated designs feature stretchy fabrics and artful silhouettes for comfortable everyday wear. The catch? The brand only offers relatively small, infrequent launches, but we have good news: You’ll find a new collection coming soon for fall and winter.
As we’ve said, all nudes aren’t universal—but Nude Barre has you covered. The company designs hosiery like fishnet and opaque styles in all skin tones and has since expanded to other garments, including bras, seamless thongs, and bikini-cut underwear.
Sami Miro Vintage
Influencer and designer Sami Miro made a name for herself by thrifting, and now, she’s taking it offline and into your closet. Her brand Sami Miro Vintage produces upcycled pieces—and once they sell out, they’re gone forever. So if you want to snag a pair of vintage jeans, cut-out tops, or asymmetrical tops and dresses, you’ll have to act fast.