For centuries black people have been the creators of fashion. People use us as their inspiration and their muse and it is not just with clothes. Black people are fashion and without us, it would not exist. When you think of fashion you don’t think of black-owned businesses like HGC apparel or Power in One, you think of the high-end brands like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Balenciaga. The reason why you would think about these more expensive brands when you think fashion is because these are the brands that are making the most noise in the fashion world. These small black-owned clothing lines are not making clothes for the culture the way Puff Daddy did with Sean John or Daymond John did with FUBU, they are making clothes for movements, and this is appreciated but it should not be the only thing the company is known for. The only two successful black-owned fashion lines are run by Robyn Rihanna Fenty who has her line with Puma and Kanye West. These two are true entrepreneurs and the reason why they are so successful is because they are inclusive. Anyone can wear their clothes. Most of these small black brands make clothes just for black people because they have certain slogans or pictures printed on their clothes that just would not make sense for a white person to put on. Things like “Black by Popular Demand” or “Black love matters”, on clothing are cute I can’t help but feel like the only reason these clothes are being designed because of the Black Lives Matter movement and the sudden appreciation for black love amongst our community.
Daymond John had the same idea that these small businesses have when he created FUBU, and his slogan was “For Us By Us”, but he did not obnoxiously put it on every piece that was designed because he knew that it wouldn’t sell to everyone. He knew his demographic but he didn’t stop his business from flourishing by putting black power quotes on every sleeve. In addition to FUBU, we had Sean John and Rocawear (Sean John founded by Diddy, Rocawear founded by Jay-Z). These entrepreneurs made their clothes for the urban community but had a much larger demographic, they were able to make everyone feel like they could wear these designs. They were also successful because of the variety of items they sold. Now if you go to some of these black-owned clothing brands they only have a select few things that they make and it is only online. FUBU, Sean John, and Rocawear had more than just hats or t-shirts, they had jeans, sweaters, long sleeve-shirts. If there are more options and variety more people would spend their money to support these businesses.
I am not saying that these small businesses should stop making clothes appreciating/acknowledging black people and their worth. But I do think they need to expand their ideas and their demographic. One thing that I have noticed about these larger, more successful brands is that they cater to everyone, not just one group of people. It is important to realize that everyone should feel comfortable purchasing your items and everything does not need to have a slogan or a quote on it. I also realize that majority of the people spoken about in this article had the extra funds to start their business and have it be successful. However, Daymond John did not have this upper hand, he started from the bottom just like a lot of people and he created some of the most iconic/influential pieces of the early 2000’s. My only suggestion is that these smaller black businesses look at their predecessors to see what made their businesses so successful and use those same tactics.