The societal strive toward supporting black-owned businesses has become a major topic of discussion since the start of the decade, and rightfully so.
While this form of allyship should have been a significant deal long before 2020, it has become a focal point across the fashion spectrum. After all, Black culture, when displayed in virtually any form, is inimitable. Moreover, it should be made clear that this sentiment applies every day of the year, rather than simply on Juneteenth.
By supporting Black-owned brands, you allow minority designers the creative voice they deserve. There is a variety of ways to serve as an ally to the Black community, many of which have been brought to light in recent years. And while lending a helping hand to your fellow man is great enough as it is, there are few better ways to do so and express your taste than by assisting in the growth of these independent labels. With this in mind, we’ve compiled a thorough list of Black-owned style brands and designers of color you should know from here on out.
The best way to describe Adrien Victor Sauvage would be part costumier, part filmmaker, and full-on garment expert. The designer’s first-ever clothing collection came in the form of a seven-minute film titled This Is Not a Suit, ultimately setting the stage for his luxurious takes on essential pieces. These include (but are not limited to) sumptuous, silk-made stark black pajamas and a cape crafted from premium materials like merino wool and cashmere, the latter of which fully exudes the “costumier” element we mentioned.
Armando Cabral used to model for the likes of Louis Vuitton and Dries Van Noten, ultimately paving the way for his luxury footwear brand. The designer founded his eponymous brand in 2009, and it is based around a sense of innate artisanship, offering a wide range of shoes with everything from slip-on sneakers to buckled leather boots. Additionally, it is also a major staple in the Black community, donating proceeds from all of its purchases to support Black Lives Matter and education in Guinea-Bissau.
As it stands, Bianca Saunders is one of the more integral names in high-end fashion, consistently managing to blur the lines between masculine and feminine for the better. The British label was founded by Saunders in 2017 when she was a mere 24-year-old fashion school graduate, and it has gradually grown into a significant, trendsetting brand that takes bits and pieces from Saunders’ Jamaican roots. Typically unconventional in more ways than others, this label looks to alter the way men think about clothing, managing to push the envelope more and more with virtually every seasonal collection.
BLACKSTOCK & WEBER
When it comes to modern dress shoes, Blackstock & Weber is at the forefront of the conversation. By blending runway-appropriate looks with performance-geared materials like Vibram soles, the Brooklyn-bred shoemaker’s catalog is undeniably gorgeous. B&W has a pair to suit everyone’s palette, whether it’s emerald-colored crocodile horse-bit loafers or turquoise penny loafers, you can’t go wrong with any pair you choose. On top of that, it has also collaborated with another popular NYC-based boutique in 3sixteen, going to show that things are only moving up for the brand.
This fashionable brand uses nothing short of the best materials around, including luxurious Italian textiles and leathers. With everything from lush cashmere hoodies to suede-accented sneakers, Johnson’s catalog is a very interesting blend of casual chic crafted from black-tie-appropriate elements, which is something we can get behind entirely. As added trivia about the designer himself, Johnson has an affinity for luxury timepieces, and his sprawling collection of Audemars Piguet examples is only one showcase of his top-tier taste.
BRICKS & WOOD
This up-and-coming SoCal clothier offers a wide variety of clothing, including paisley-coated wool sweaters and easy-going poplin shirts. Bricks & Wood was founded by head designer Kacey Lynch, a South Central native who has sought out a way to make streetwear with purpose, rather than simply pumping out clothes that are guaranteed to resell for a solid profit.
Brooklyn Circus is a knowledgable brand in all facets, and its rather philosophic mission statement illustrates that gracefully. It claims that “style is informed by a moment in time, and context is captured by presentation.” All in all, the brand knows no bounds, somehow managing to reimagine the way we dress while sticking to the traditional elements of fashion throughout American history. Its unique blend of prep and casual clothing tells a story, and it may require a timeline to pin down.
This L.A.-based streetwear label has become one of the more high-brow names in its field. Brownstone garments can be found in online retailers like SSENSE and exorbitant clothing shops like Union LA, going to show the versatile audience it has managed to accumulate. Through collaborations with A Ma Maniére, world-famous rappers, and Coachella (that’s right, the entire festival), Brownstone’s eccentric array of pieces has remained unequivocally cool, ranging from casual graphic tees and sweaters to fuzzy mohair cardigans.
Joe Casely-Hayford was one of the fashion world’s grandest anomalies, capable of dipping his toes into every category imaginable. However, what most separated him from the pack was his unrivaled tailoring skills. The late designer’s clientele consisted of some of the music world’s finest acts throughout the ’80s, including Lou Reed and The Clash. Prior to his untimely passing, Casely-Hayford partnered with his son to open up a gorgeous boutique built around high-end tailoring and contemporary street fashion. In the years that followed his death, the family-owned atelier remains one of London’s finest, offering bespoke tailoring services to this day.
We have yet another fashionable Brooklyn-based brand that checks every box for your wardrobe, with prime examples including its water-resistant topcoat and floral workwear jackets. Like countless other people who sat at home for the past two years, head designer and founder McKnight put his talents to the test at the dawn of the pandemic, handcrafting his first-ever collection while quarantined in his own home. By blending meticulous looks with a utilitarian appeal, he managed to reimagine a variety of timeless surplus store pieces with a much-needed touch of color and has been pulling it off ever since.
The Amsterdam-bred label offers a wide variety of relatively loud pieces that are still casual enough to suit anyone’s wardrobe. Though the brand itself came to shape in 2012, Daily Paper was initially a fashion blog that a trio of friends had kicked off in 2008, ultimately becoming a major player in the local streetwear scene. Taking inspiration from the founders’ African heritage, Daily Paper’s blend of quality materials and colorful motifs has become a mainstay and has even resulted in a handful of partnerships, with one of the most notable being a joint effort with Beats.
This American-made brand is arguably the most subtle one on this list, but you could never go wrong with a simple look. Darryl Brown’s wide catalog of workwear and athleisure essentials like crewneck sweatshirts and cozy fleece training pants are made to be worn on any occasion. Plus, buying closet staples from high-quality brands like this lends a hand in slowing down the destructive fast fashion industry and stresses the importance of craftsmanship.
Donned by the likes of Jay-Z and Stephen Curry, Frère has rapidly grown into one of the celebrity world’s most prominent up-and-coming clothing brands. It is centered around handsome, custom-tailored garments crafted from premium textiles like silk, wool, and mohair, but the brand has much more up its sleeve than a catalog of well-designed suits. From bomber jackets to a recent collaboration with boutique eyewear label Oliver Peoples, Frère is as eclectic as it gets, and its designer Davidson Petit-Frère has rightfully garnered quite a following for himself.
GLENN’S DENIM NYC
Glenn Liburd’s three decades’ worth of work in the world of denim ultimately led to the release of his very first collection in 2019. Glenn’s Denim celebrates an absolutely unrivaled point in time from a cultural standpoint, channeling elements of ‘80s-era New York through virtually everything he makes. Taking inspiration from the Bowery’s punk scene, the rise of hip-hop in Harlem, and a surfeit of avant-garde artists that swept the city streets, each diligently-made pair of jeans is a testament to the designer’s rebellious upbringing with a touch of wistful thinking.
imperfects was founded by San Diego-native Mike Lynch in 2015, who conceptualizes the label as a “more enlightened Human Experience.” From handsome dungarees crafted from raw Japanese canvas to sturdy shepherd’s shirts made of post-consumer denim, that brand’s sustainable approach to fashion is an effortless one that aims to appease everyone’s taste in clothing. And while apparel is arguably the brand’s bread-and-butter, it has proven to be one of the best surf-and-skateboard manufacturers in the game, managing to implement the same high level of craftsmanship into these categories as it does its catalog of clothing.
Nicholas Daley’s eponymous label takes a major portion of inspiration from an eclectic variety of genres, including post-punk, bass, and reggae, coming together to showcase the seamless relationship between fashion and musicianship. The award-winning, UK-based designer, whose family roots hail from Scotland and Jamaica, takes bits and pieces of his multicultural heritage, blending unique textiles with palatable motifs. The eccentric designs that compose Daley’s catalog are virtually limitless, ranging from patch-worked bowling shirts and vividly-colored crochet beanies to relaxed-fitting kimonos and heavy-duty wool parkas crafted to take on the London fog.
Norwegian Rain serves as the amalgamation of traditional tailoring and technical innovation, looking to provide nothing short of waterproof outerwear that still manages to look great. From a design perspective, it is heavily inspired by “Japanese sensibilities,” which is made clear with a single glimpse of its catalog’s streamlined garments. With a wide variety of high-quality raincoats from which to choose, cold-weather regulars and constant travelers alike will surely appreciate the time and effort the brand puts into keeping them warm, comfortable, and agile.
If you’re familiar with Thomas Nutter’s career timeline, then Ozwald Boateng is a huge deal. While the former is responsible for reimagining the Savile Row suit, he served as Boateng’s mentor years later, with Boateng going on to unveil his first collection in Paris in the early ‘90s and remaining a mainstay ever since. The London native’s approach to tailoring takes after Nutter’s, and it has worked in his favor, as he was recently appointed as the creative director of menswear at Givenchy. As far as his eponymous label goes, Boateng’s flagship store is currently the only Black-owned boutique on storied Savile Row.
Former Gap and Giorgio Armani style director Patrick Robinson’s flair for design matches his passion for equality and sustainability, which says a lot. The founder of Pashko claims that the brand’s primary focus is battling social and racial inequality in the U.S. as it looks to provide jobs for undermined communities, all the while teaching them sustainable manufacturing practices along the way. Its lengthy catalog is chock-full of closet essentials, a large sum of which is aimed toward keeping travelers nice and comfortable when heading out on vacation. From 4-way-stretch utility pants to weather-resistant khakis, don’t mistake Paskho’s traditional approach to style for a lack of quality or innovation.
Each piece in Post-Imperial’s catalog is intricately crafted by African artisans who implement their refined textile sensibility with timeless, age-old techniques. Head designer Niyi Okuboyejo hails from Lagos, Nigeria, but ultimately made his way down to the fashion capital of the States in New York, coming together with niche brands like Engineered Garments and major automotive marques like MINI, going to show his impressive range. As far as his own brand is concerned, its fashion-forward designs shed a light on people within the African diaspora, taking inspiration from music, houses of prayer, and much more.
PUBLIC SCHOOL NYC
Public School NYC has embedded itself in New York’s rapidly-shifting fashion scene, and in case a co-sign from Nas wasn’t enough to convince you, its gluttony of other collaborations surely will. The nearly-15-year-old brand has worked with major names, including Eileen Fisher, Stance Socks, and Montblanc, the latter of which was highlighted by a capsule featuring eco-friendly bags and accessories crafted from recycled fishing nets, carpets, and scraps of fabric. The brand’s designers have been on a mission to disrupt the status quo in the tailored sportswear scene, which is already difficult to find in and of itself.
Sustainability is another major talking point in the industry, as the dying trend of fast fashion has rapidly (and properly) come to a close. Soulland just so happens to be one of the many eco-cognizant labels these days, responsibly sourcing all of its materials from Italy, France, and Portugal. However, it’s one of the few that separates itself from a stylistic standpoint. Pulling off a subtle and playful look is no easy feat, but the Scandinavian clothier does so with flying colors or, in the case of its fanciful Snoopy-clad dress shirts, plain old black-and-white.
Founded by Desyree Nicole just over five years ago, Todd Patrick focuses on crafting elegant, contemporary garments that garner inspiration from fashion’s most timeless periods. Some of these elements come courtesy of Motown, lush nature, and a sprawling array of travel hotspots that seamlessly conjoin by way of Nicole’s unique designs. From satin-crafted trucker jackets to handmade lace fabric camp shirts, each product purchased through Todd Patrick’s online retailer is made to order, assuring nothing short of impeccable quality.
Wales Bonner is arguably the hottest brand in the game right now, which is saying a lot. While its latest collaboration with adidas is one of 2022’s most coveted joint efforts, it’s worth noting that the female-owned, eponymous fashion house is far from a newcomer, having made a name for itself upon setting up shop in 2014. Designer Grace Wales Bonner’s fusion of timeless European luxury with fashion-forward elements of Afro-Atlantic art results in a runway-appropriate melting pot of looks, like robust lambskin jackets and eye-catching jacquard-knit tracksuits. In addition to adidas, Wales Bonner has recently teamed up with famed Black artist and professor Kerry James Marshall, coming together for an incredibly empowering capsule of wearable art.
California native Waraire Boswell has been acknowledged for a surfeit of his designs, a handful of which do not correlate with the fashion industry. Nevertheless, the Mercedes-Benz Classic Designer of the Year award winner has served as an emblematic figure in bespoke fashion for years now. From tailoring suits for the likes of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to designing reimagined uniforms for McDonald’s employees, Boswell’s imprint on the world of clothing as a whole trickles down to his eponymous label, featuring everything from ready-to-wear garments to fully-custom tuxedos.
WINNIE NEW YORK
Winnie New York was founded by youthful designer Idris Balogun, who has worked for big-name fashion houses like Tom Ford and Burberry, ultimately gaining consideration from LVMH for his Savile Row-inspired design prowess. Having come about two years ago upon unveiling his designs in Paris, it was made immensely clear that Balogun was not one to abide by trends and temporary looks, as its gorgeous array of high-end garments like wool trousers and cashmere coats is as timeless as it gets.