10 black-owned fashion brands to support and invest in – harpersbazaar.com


Over the past week, following the horrifying death of George Floyd, demonstrations have been held across cities within the United States and around the world, to protest police brutality and the systemic racism which exists on a global scale. As a result, many have finally woken up the brutal realities faced by black people every day, and are now vowing to join in the fight for equality and committing to be anti-racist. Part of this means being an ally in every sense of the word – and one way that we, as consumers, can lend ourselves to the cause, is by educating ourselves about black-owned businesses and brands, and supporting and investing in them wherever possible.

Within the fashion industry there’s a huge wealth of talented black designers, many of which have not been given the spotlight they deserve. We are committed to better raising the profile of these figures and showcasing their exceptional work more, starting right here.

From well-known catwalk names to design stars who are just on the rise, here are 10 black fashion designers that we think you should have on your radar.

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1 Cushnie


Cushnie is a New York-based label run by Carly Cushnie, which is known for its sleek, sculptural eveningwear and separates. Worn by the likes of Michelle Obama, Jennifer Lopez and Ashley Graham, it can easily be described as a red-carpet favourite, but the label is also one to bookmark for elegant day-to-day pieces including silky bodies, midi dresses, sharp blazers and chic jumpsuits.

Cushnie initially founded the brand alongside fellow Parsons’ graduate Michelle Ochs (which is why you may remember it as Cushnie et Ochs), but took over as CEO and creative director of the label a few years ago when her partner left to pursue other projects.

The brand is also now known for its bridalwear and was even responsible for Sophie Turner’s pre-wedding night look before she married Joe Jonas in those star-studded nuptials in the South of France last year.

2 Christopher John Rogers


Louisiana-born Christopher John Rogers is one of the big new names on the block, having won a CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund Award late last year, before going on to launch his spring collection on Net-a-Porter just a few months ago.

Embracing the brightest colours and the most unique and voluminous shapes, there is little surprise that Rogers has managed to make such a splash in such a short space of time, now boasting fans such as Tracee Ellis Ross and Rihanna.

These couture-like designs are a true celebration of fashion and ones to invest in for those statement-making moments in your life, although he should not be overlooked for pepping up your working wardrobe, too – think pleated skirts, tailored trousers and silk blouses with added oomph.

3 Wales Bonner


Grace Wales Bonner is one of the most exciting names in British fashion at the moment, only recently heading into womenswear after launching her men’s label in 2014. The designer explores European and African heritage and history in her collections, using her designs as a direct response to notions of race and gender.

Wales Bonner has won a number of coveted awards along the way, including the prestigious LVMH Prize and the Fashion Award for Emerging Talent.

Over the past few years, she has collaborated with the likes of Dior and has been worn by some of the most famous women in the world. She was notably chosen by the Duchess of Sussex for her first post-pregnancy appearance, when she introduced her son Archie to the world.

Retro prints, soft silhouettes and impeccable tailoring make up her current collection; these truly are pieces you can buy now and wear forever.

4 Fenty


A brand that needs little to no introduction, Fenty is superstar Rihanna’s fashion label, which has been making headlines for all the right reasons.

Launched under LVMH in May of last year, the move made history: Rihanna became the first woman to create an original brand under the conglomerate and also became the first woman of colour to lead a house under the LVMH brand.

Her spectacular catwalk shows (for her lingerie arm Savage x Fenty) have proven extremely popular with fans and fashion critics alike . She’s consistently embraced diversity on the runway in various forms, including featuring many more women of colour, a variety of different body shapes and sizes, and even had heavily-pregnant model Slick Woods strut down the catwalk in her lingerie, shortly before giving birth to her son.

Her mainline collection exudes the cool that Rihanna’s personal style is associated with – corset dresses, dark-wash denim and blazers have already become trademark looks for the brand.

5 Off-White


Known for its supermodel-studded catwalk shows and one-of-a-kind streetwear, Virgil Abloh’s Off-White has become one of the most popular young brands to have emerged over the past decade, with the label now boasting more than 10 million followers on Instagram.

Loved by some of the most influential faces in the world – the Hadid sisters, Kim Kardashian West, Kendall Jenner and Hailey Bieber, to name just a few – the brand’s key pieces are consistently among the popular items each season, with its trainers, jackets, bags and belts becoming instantly recognisable pieces that are coveted by millennials the world over.

6 Pyer Moss


Pyer Moss was launched in 2013 by designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, who describes the brand as “an art project or a timely social experiment” on his website.

Through his collections, he uses storytelling, activism, debate, theatre and social commentary – and always collaborates with other artists and brands to further the dialogue. His work so far has been centred around a number of important topics including; bringing to light the unfrequented story of the black cowboys from the 19th century; stories of the common black family experience; and a collection focusing on the contributions of Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the black woman who invented Rock ‘N’ Roll.

From the more casual cropped hoodies, colourful corduroy trousers and tees, to his long flowing maxi dresses and that must-have lilac blazer, there is plenty to covet from his most recent collection, which you can shop here.

7 Sindiso Khumalo


If you’re looking to support black fashion talent on the rise then let us introduce Sindiso Khumalo, who was one of the finalists for this year’s LVMH Prize and has been making waves with her sustainable designs that are inspired by her South African heritage.

Khumalo founded her brand in Cape Town in 2014 after studying at Central Saint Martins and working with the United Nations Ethical Fashion Initiative, which helped put her in touch with artisans across the continent, with whom she now works on a daily basis.

Her collections are inspired by the places and people in her roots, namely her mother, who was an activist fighting against apartheid during her youth, as well as other inspirational black figures in South African history, including Charlotte Maxeke and Sarah Forbes Bonetta. These references play into Khumalo’s designs with vintage-inspired cuts and fabrics that are given an updated twist – prairie dresses, straw sun hats and fun printed sets all feature in her most recent collection.

8 Mateo


Fine jewellery at an approachable price point is how New York-based Mateo would align itself, launched by Matthew Harris in 2009. The label was originally founded as a men’s jewellery specialist, but over the years has transformed somewhat, first by launching women’s collections too, and then by reinventing itself into a more elevated position as a fine jewellery destination.

Now, each piece in the collection is made with 14KT gold and features diamonds and other precious gemstones designed within a modern aesthetic – some minimal and others more about making a statement. These include beautiful and delicate coin necklaces, which sit alongside dainty diamond hoops, enormous emerald earrings, gemstone-beaded chokers and striking initial rings. There is something for every modern jewellery lover in this collection, and fans include a number of Hollywood’s biggest stars who have sparkled in Mateo on the red carpet – look to Zendaya, Michelle Obama, Kerry Washington, Taylor Swift and Kate Hudson.

9 Thebe Magugu


Thebe Magugu was the winner of the 2019 LVMH Prize (making him the first designer from Africa to pick up the prestigious accolade) and made his debut during Paris Fashion Week this past February. Hailing from Kimberly in South Africa, Magugu studied at the LISOF School of Fashion in Johannesburg, before launching his namesake label – a contemporary womenswear brand that brings together its three pillar values of quality, novelty and culture.

His work is inspired and defined by South Africa, not only the country where he grew up, but the place where he intends to build his business, keeping the entire production cycle on the continent.

With his brand, Magugu aims to bring together the rich and varied history of the country in a contemporary way. His spring collection is available to shop now – you’ll find modern takes on shirting, colourful prints and elegant dresses.

10 Brother Vellies


Aurora James launched Brother Vellies in 2013, a luxury footwear label which aims to keep traditional African design practices and techniques alive, selling her shoes from the Brooklyn store and in retailers around the world online.

Artisans from across the African continent (including in Kenya, South Africa and Namibia) work on the designs, which are all sustainably and ethically created, each shoe standing as a love letter to the towns and villages where they were produced.

And while Brother Vellies is recognised for its sustainability credentials and for giving back, its designs are just as noteworthy. From flat sandals and loafers to seriously statement boots and heels, these shoes have caught the eye of some of the most stylish women on the planet, including Solange Knowles and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

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