The holidays are now upon us, and while things may be different this year, shoppers are still eager to get stylish outfits for the festive season and beyond. Unfortunately, the billion-dollar fashion industry has contributed greatly to the global climate crisis. According to the Fashion Industry Report’s Pulse, the business was responsible for 1.7 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide in 2015. The industry is responsible for around 5% of all human-made greenhouse gas emissions, and that percentage is set to grow. Fortunately, sustainable fashion, which has been a topic of interest for years, is even more on our radar in 2020. With the growing prospect of climate change and an economy adversely affected by COVID-19, many people are rethinking their shopping habits.
A sizable number of savvy shoppers are wielding their consumer spending power to support Black-owned businesses who are doing the critical work to be greener. Even major tech companies are getting behind the movement to buy from small Black-owned enterprises. Facebook’s first-ever #BuyBlack Friday campaign, for example, ran in the weeks leading up to Black Friday. The message is becoming clear: Where you spend your money counts. So shop wisely.
Check out these 14 small Black-owned businesses that offer sustainable and stylish clothing you can support this season and beyond.
Based in Oakland, Calif., Taylor Jay is a fair-made clothing line designing high-quality, eco-friendly elevated basics. It ethically sources recycled and upcycled threads to create its environmentally friendly garments.
Chelsea Bravo founded her eponymous menswear label in 2013 before transitioning into more gender-neutral styles. The company is based in Brooklyn, N.Y., and each contemporary, artistic design is made-to-order in-house using plant-derived materials.
Aliya Wanek is a speech therapist by day and a womenswear designer by night. The Oakland-based eponymous label, established in 2016, produces timeless, comfortable pieces from natural fibers. Each piece is hand-dyed in the Bay Area and offers a mix of the American classic and Japanese aesthetics.
Brother Vellies was founded in 2013 by Canadian fashion professional Aurora James with the goal of keeping traditional African design practices and techniques alive while creating and sustaining artisanal jobs. Originally focused on South African “vellies” made of Springbok leather, the collection is now produced across the globe in Kenya, Mexico, Morocco, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Italy, Haiti and the U.S.A.
Designed in New York City by Liberian founder Robin Sirleaf using leather sourced, cut and sewn in Africa, Sarep + Rose’s bags honor their heritage and embody a distinctive hybrid modernity. The accessories present a bright juxtaposition of African materials and craftsmanship with western design and functionality. The ultimate aim is to fuse two separate worlds and make a positive social and economic impact on Pan-African society while supporting self-taught artisans.
This zero-waste clothing line serves up timeless romantic looks. Designed by Dynasty Casanova, the pieces are handmade in Brooklyn from vintage and recycled textiles. Some of the brands core values include zero waste, giving back and craftsmanship.
The Brooklyn-based label, founded by Fe Noel, creates vibrant and bold collections inspired by Caribbean nature and Renaissance art. Currently, everything is made in a small production house in the Crown Heights neighborhood.
Míe is a lifestyle brand that provides design and fashion consciously made to be nature-friendly with a focus on resort wear. All of the clothes are locally produced by seamstresses and artisans in Lagos, Nigeria, where the company is based.
Lem Lem, by supermodel Liya Kebede, is an artisan-driven collection of women’s, men’s and children’s wear and home goods made entirely in Africa. The core products are handwoven from natural cotton in Ethiopia and the brand is steadily expanding partnerships with additional artisan groups across the continent.
The House of Aama is the spiritual expression of mother and daughter duo, Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka, in material form. The brand explores the Black experience by designing garments with nostalgic references informed by historical research, archival analysis and inspirational storytelling.
Studio One Eighty Nine, cofounded by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, is a fashion lifestyle brand and social enterprise that has recently won the prestigious CFDA Lexus Fashion Initiative for Sustainability. The brand is made in the Motherland and produces African and African-inspired content and clothing. Studio One Eighty Nine works with artisanal communities that specialize in various traditional craftsmanship techniques including natural plant-based dye indigo, hand-drawn batik, kente weaving and more.
Earth Toned Collective is a sustainable and ethical women’s apparel brand. Designing with the Earth in mind via eco-friendly and revived materials, the label’s form of luxury is meant to liberate, celebrate and connect you to nature.
EDAS was created with innovation in mind, initially focusing on sustainability while using unusual home goods and refurbished elements. The brand now delivers feminine and staple accessories, accommodating the eclectic style of the everyday woman.
Founded in 2018 by activist and lifestyle influencer Lula Dualeh, the Act Up Sis brand offers sustainable Somali Baatis, a classic cotton house dress that is simple in design and easy to wear. Each baati is made from organic cotton which is better for the environment. Dualeh has also consolidated her sourcing and has decided to only work with one small business as her supplier.