In honor of Black History Month, I decided to look for black-led fashion brands to research, buy from, and support. I immediately ran into a major issue-black designers and black-led brands are very hard to find! In the fashion industry, black designers are not represented enough on social media platforms, in major design houses, in magazines, or on the runways during the fashion weeks. Why does an industry that claims to celebrate diversity consistently marginalize black designers?
The answer: systematic employment discrimination. Black designers are not given equal opportunities at major design houses or brands globally when applying for high level director or creative positions. On top of this, black designers are sometimes blacklisted by recruiters and hiring managers limiting their access to stable employment and fair salaries.
As consumers, we can’t change the hiring processes of major design companies. What we can do is use our purchasing power to support marginalized black designers and change current industry practices through the products we choose to buy. Here are three black-led designer brands with moderate prices that you should consider checking out and supporting!
This is an African brand which focuses on creating jobs across the African continent. Many of the fabrics and pieces are handwoven in Ethiopia! Prices range from $20-$500. https://www.lemlem.com
2. Mint Swim
This is a swimsuit brand that uses unique cutouts and attention-grabbing prints, all while making a range of sizes to fit women of all different body types. Prices range from $18-$105. http://www.mint-swim.com
3. Pyer Moss
This designer from New York plays with a 90’s/hip-hop nostalgia aesthetic and incorporates activism into his brands' identity. The runway presentations are a comment on our current political and socio-economic climate. Prices range from $70-$1,500. https://pyermoss.com
As a consumer, you have power in every purchase you make. You are responsible for the brands you buy from, so do research on certain companies, their practices, and the diversity of their staff and senior officers. Choose to make the fashion industry more diverse and more inclusive not just during Black History Month, but every month.