Following the global conversations sparked in 2020 about prioritizing diversity and inclusivity, what is the current state of Black-owned businesses in retail?
Plus, acquaint yourself with rising brands for collaboration or investment opportunities.
Despite an increase of more than 300% since 2020, products by Black-owned brands equal less than 1% of fashion available at major online retailers.
For retailers to be inclusive, they need to use their platforms to uplift and support emerging Black-owned labels that typically don’t get the exposure compared to upstart white businesses. Though it’s important to spotlight new talent over Black History Month, year-round efforts are required to create authentic change.
Going beyond brand collaborations and increasing stocked labels, retailers need to include Black creatives within their design, buying and executive teams to create a top-down approach to diversity within their company.
EDITED recognizes that this is not an exhaustive list of Black talent. Retailers can find more up-and-coming designers from The 15% Pledge and Black Owned Everything, or can carry out their own research.
Is Fashion Really More Inclusive Now?
Over the past two years, the number of products by Black-owned fashion brands available at major online retailers has experienced a substantial upward trajectory. Retailers are stocking 52% more products YoY, equaling a 360% increase since 2020.
However, this isn’t the full picture. In 2020, calls for systemic change were at a fever pitch. The 15% Pledge was born to create opportunity and support for Black-owned businesses, and high-profile retailers were rallied to commit to allocating 15% of their shelf space to these marginalized brands. While companies like Nordstrom and Macy’s made the pledge, products by Black-owned brands currently equal only 0.7% of the total fashion items available online across US and UK retailers, highlighting how much work still needs to be done to build a more diverse and inclusive industry.
Black-Owned Apparel Brands
Instantly recognizable by its “Bitch I’m in therapy” branded loungewear and merchandise, which has been worn in the TV series The Chi, Apt C3 uses its platform to spread awareness and share resources to support mental health.
Ashes and Soil
A fashion label and concept store mid-relaunch created by Martina Offeh, a Hamburg-based designer. Previous collections have consisted of leather jackets with QR codes sharing the stories of eight people impacted by mental illness.
German brand Beautiful Struggles is a melting pot of streetwear, premium design, European heritage and American culture. Products are unisex and span hoodies, T-shirts, sweatpants and accessories.
Come Back As A Flower
A sustainable business ethically produced in Los Angeles, Come Back As A Flower develops 100% recycled cotton and hand-dyed genderless products. Earlier this year, A$AP Rocky was spotted wearing a camo balaclava by the brand.
@beautifulstruggles_official & @comebackasaflower
Dad Bod Sniper (DBS)
A high-end, body inclusive menswear brand offering premium accessories, outerwear, knitwear and shirts in sizes M to 3XL. DBS products are centered on quality and take inspiration from Japanese and African fashion, and contemporary art.
The brainchild of a mother/daughter design team, Dur Doux is touted as an affordable and wearable luxury lifestyle brand. Its SS23 collection combined elevated resortwear with Carnivale elements and showcased size inclusive models on the runway.
Eugene Taylor Brand
Discovered by the Black In Fashion Council, Eugene Taylor Brand is a genderless label founded by designer Letesha Renee. Products include swimwear and resortwear, as well as a partywear collection created as an homage to Diana Ross.
IAMISIGO is dedicated to preserving traditional textile techniques. Each piece is handcrafted in Africa and made to order by artisans. The brand is described as “nomadic conscious wearable art” and uses sustainably sourced and recycled materials.
@eugenetaylorbrand & @iamisigo
Little Black Outfit
A UK-based brand launched to remove the stigma surrounding black clothing for babies, which was initially not easily accessible. Little Black Outfit stocks designs in sizes 0-24 months and uses sustainable and ethical sourcing, as well as local manufacturing.
A sustainable womenswear brand that uses materials derived from natural fibers, which are 95% biodegradable. Megan Renee was a Tommy Hilfiger’s Legacy Challenge finalist and was tasked with reimagining six iconic preppy styles.
@littleblackoutfituk & @shop_meganrenee
Preston and James
A teen streetwear brand. Preston and James creates upcycled, handmade and ethically small batched products with one-of-a-kind tie-dyes and graphics. Community is at the heart of the business, with art classes offered at its store in Denver.
The LA-based label has been fused with several hyped partnerships throughout 2022, including a 90s-inspired normcore range with Microsoft and a new loungewear brand STUDIO offering quarterly drops with PacSun.
Black-Owned Footwear & Accessories Brands
The Harlem-born brand specializes in conversation-starting shoes, offering plush slides and textured mules. ARCH NYC uses its site to educate its customers to support the #BlackLivesMatter movement and to stand against police brutality and systemic racism.
Brittney Perry created the genderless footwear brand to break barriers in the sneaker market, which is flooded with styles designed by men for men. In addition to its signature leather sneakers, PerryCo has expanded into accessories and loungewear.
Murway merges Black creativity with Italian luxury craftsmanship, offering leather handbags in classic and experimental silhouettes. The label is instantly recognizable with its Joystick bag and dopamine color schemes.
The label, which counts Beyoncé as a fan, creates gender-neutral, geometric jewelry inspired by New York Architecture. In honor of Kamala Harris, it partnered with three other Black-owned brands on a freshwater pearl collection.
Black-Owned Beauty Brands
Bread Beauty Supply
The brand boasts “hair-care basics for not-so-basic hair,” catering to curl types 3A to 4C, with Kakadu plum seed oil as its hero ingredient. Products include a shampoo-conditioner hybrid, hair mask, oils and a Bread-puff silk scrunchie.
Get Right Fragrance
According to the brand’s founder, “to Get Right is the strength to overcome challenges and prepare for greatness.” It’s recognized for its signature scent Clean Team, an aromatic blend of citrus, florals, amber and sandalwood.
@breadbeautysupply & @getrightfragrance
A playful beauty brand built around honoring your inner child. GLOSSHOOD is the creator of the cult product, the Holyyy Gloss Balm Hybrid, a unisex quenching lip gloss containing avocado, coconut, peppermint and jojoba oils.
A clean skincare and wellness brand that offers body butters, face masks, cleansers and lip balms. Hanahana is built on transparency, using shea butter directly from the Katariga Women’s Shea Cooperative in Ghana, paying twice the fair trade rate.
The self-described pro-Black, pro-queer and pro-fat cosmetics brand is known for its vegan red lipsticks that are developed to suit five different lip tones – an area previously overlooked for creating diversity within the beauty industry.
Consisting of 100% vegan products handmade in New York, the brand focuses on creating scents that invoke memories. Redoux specializes in botanical cleansing bars containing hero ingredients spirulina and turmeric.
Black-Owned Homeware Brands
A kids’ tableware brand with diverse illustrations for children to find representation within the STE(A)M field. Collections are made up of plates, bowls, mugs and platters, and 5% of all sales are donated to the nonprofit No Kid Hungry.
Karen Jai Home
Specializes in luxury homeware across categories including furniture, kitchen, lighting, dining and art. The label is known for plush chairs and ottomans, neotenic lamps and geometric patterns splashed across rugs and pillows
@colorfull_plates & @karenjaihome
The brand designs sculptures, interiors and furniture that are described as “affordable, accessible, eco-friendly and weird.” It uses small batch production processes to minimize waste and its plant stands are handmade in New York.
Marie Burgos Collection
Interior designer Marie Burgos’ eponymous collection offers contemporary lighting, furniture and decorative accessories. A certified Feng Shui master, Burgos’ products are developed to create a harmonious balance in each room.
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Chart Analysis Data
Black-owned brands: 3.PARADIS, A A K S, A-COLD-WALL, ANWAR CARROTS, ASAI, Africa Your Time is Now, Amina Muaddi, Aminah Abdul Jillil, Andrea Iyamah, Bianca Saunders, Brother Vellies, CASTAMIRA, CLAN, CUSHNIE, Casely-Hayford, Christopher John Rogers, Daily Paper, Diarrablu, Elsie & Fred, Fear of God, Fe Noel, Harwell Godfrey, Heron Preston, Hope for Flowers by Tracy Reese, Image Gang, Kenneth Ize, LaQuan Smith, Lem Lem, Lisou, Maki Oh, Martine Rose, Mateo, Nubian Skin, Off-White, Orange Culture, Patta, Phlemuns, Public School, Pyer Moss, Renowned LA, Romeo Hunte, SAVAGE X FENTY, Sergio Hudson, SUPERVSN, SIKA, Sindiso Khumalo, Spencer Badu, Stella Jean, Studio 189, Third Crown, TOVE, TTYA, Telfar, Thebe Magugu, Trapstar, Victor Glemaud, Wales Bonner, Yeezy
Stockists: 24 Sevres, ASOS, Antonioli, Bergdorf Goodman, END, Farfetch, Flannels, HBX, Harvey Nichols, KITH, LN-CC, Luisaviaroma, Moda Operandi, Mr Porter, Mytheresa, Neiman Marcus, Net-a-Porter, Nordstrom, Revolve, SSENSE, Saks Fifth Avenue, Selfridges, Shopbop/East Dane, Thread, YOOX
Emerging brands selected based on businesses with under 50,000 Instagram followers