The past fortnight, social media has erupted in the response to George Floyd’s murder. There have been protests in all 50 states in America and 18 countries across the world, making this the largest civil rights movement in world history.
Systemic racism is real. It affects every aspect of life: school, university, jobs, housing, and more. The fashion industry is no different. Across fashion history, the industry has profited from black culture, often with no recognition or credit. It’s time for the industry and its consumers to step up.
It’s time for change. It’s time to learn, listen, and support. It’s time to elevate black voices and recognise that this industry, as well as others, continues to exploit black culture.
I’m going to be sharing some black owned sustainable fashion brands that I’ve found over the past few days. But this doesn’t stop after people stop posting on Instagram. To all my non-black readers, we need to use our privilege for good. There are countless resources on all platforms on what you should do to support BLM. This is just one thing you can do:
Mindfulness is at the centre of LE. They use deadstock fabric (unused fabric destined for landfill) and create classic, neutral, and stylish pieces. Once its sold out, its sold out for good. Not only does their manufacturing process reduce waste, but it lowers their carbon footprint by a huge amount.
Selling timeless vintage pieces, Elia Vintage drops her new looks every couple of weeks. The iconic pieces would make a gorgeous addition to your wardrobe, from sleek oversized blazers, to sparkly NYE vibe dresses.
Made entirely in Africa, Lemlem prides itself on artisanship and preserving art. Handwoven and natural cotton made by traditional weavers not only provides job across Africa, but it expands the production process. Its founder, Liya Kedebe, named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010, also founded the Lemlem Foundation. The Lemlem Foundation is a non-profit that allows artisans in Africa to access healthcare, education, and jobs.
In 2016, Rosette Ale was in her final year at University, studying modules about textile waste and sustainability. This sparked an interest within her, and Revival was born. Their aim? ‘Giving old clothes a new lease of life.’ Made from reclaimed textiles, the creativity shines through each piece of clothing.
We Are Kin
During the pandemic, We Are Kin are taking this time to make masks for their local community, and designing their next collection. Full of wardrobe staples, We Are Kin work to create pieces that are timeless rather than temporary. They also use their platform to raise awareness, most recently breast cancer awareness.
Using sustainable fabrics like Tencel™ and Repreve®, Proclaim creates inclusive lingerie. They use recycled packaging to ensure that from start to finish their production line is as sustainable as can be. The recycled polyester used to create their soft lingerie is made from plastic bottles that were destined for landfill – ‘It’s the little things that add up to make a big difference.’
Handmade in Kenya, Adele Dejak ensures that her brand feeds back into the local communities. The incredible craftsmanship that goes into each piece is shown by their stunning collections. Adele talks of her inspiration from ‘rich African culture,’ but ‘you can easily tell that my stay in Europe also influences my style of jewellery.’
Omi Woods celebrates the connection to Africa and her diaspora. Fair trade is at the centre of Omi Woods, using small-scale artisanal gold mines that pay miners a fair wage. The fair-trade African gold is then handmade into jewellery that is simply gorgeous.
We Are We Wear
Fishing nets, industrial plastics, and fabric scraps are what We Are We Wear use to create their eco-friendly swimwear. They champion sustainability and inclusivity because everyone should feel comfortable in their swimwear. They recognise that swimwear isn’t only worn on holiday or to the beach, so their stylish pieces are suitable for festivals and nights out.
Again, these are just some of the black owned businesses producing beautiful ethical fashion and jewellery. Depop now have a ‘Shop Black Sellers’ section, highlighting the need for the fashion industry to elevate black voices and talent.
Don’t stop here. Sign petitions, donate if you can, read, watch, and most importantly, listen. Talk to family and friends, and actively change to fight for what is right. I’m going to leave some resources below, and there are more accessible on all social media platforms.
‘Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race,’ Reni Eddo-Lodge
‘Me and White Supremacy,’ Layla F. Saad
‘How to be an anti-racist,’ Ibram X. Kendi
13th (available on Netflix)
Dear White People (available on Netflix)
Jane Elliot’s Anti-Racism exercise: