If You're Not Already Shopping These Black-Owned Indie Brands, You Should Be

Best black-owned indie fashion brands

Photo:

@palomija; @naomielizee; Kendra Duplantier; Thebe Magugu; Brother Vellies

I don't know about you, but for me, buying from an indie brand or shop just hits different than buying from somewhere that everyone knows. Sure, shopping from big chains has its moments. But supporting a brand that maybe doesn't have unlimited financial backing—especially right now as smaller brands continue to struggle with supply-chain issues and other difficulties caused by the pandemic—always makes for a more rewarding shopping experience IMO. The resulting items in your wardrobe that aren't owned by every person on your social feeds are just an added bonus. 

Since it's currently Black History Month, I've been focusing my indie-shopping research on Black-owned brands and retailers—from Brandon Blackwood, the creator of the viral End Systemic Racism handbag, to up-and-coming ready-to-wear designer Kendra Duplantier. Ahead, find out which indie brands I'm eyeing most for everything from feather heels and micro miniskirts to '90s shoulder bags and shearling-lined bucket hats. 

1. Ahluwalia

Founded in 2018 after the designer's graduation from Westminster University, Priya Ahluwalia's namesake brand has quickly become one of the buzziest labels in fashion. The brand participated in Gucci Fest in 2020 and collaborated with cult-favorite brand Ganni in 2021, so if you haven't heard of Ahluwalia yet, you absolutely will soon.

2. Andrea Iyamah

Nigerian fashion designer Andrea Dumebi Iyamah founded her namesake brand of mostly swimwear and resortwear in 2011 with the aim of designing pieces that celebrate her African culture. 

3. Ashya

If you're in need of a handbag for your next vacation (remember those?), Moya Annece and Ashley Cimone's accessory brand Ashya will surely have the one for you. I'm not talking about totes and weekenders, though. Rather, Ashya's bags are made for all-day, on-the-go excursions when you need to be hands-free while also lugging around all of your essential belongings. Think belt and crossbody bags.

4. Brand By

Tanya Sheikh—the former owner of the NYC-based boutique and showroom In Support Of, which closed because of the pandemic—founded her lifestyle brand Brand By as a way to bring people together through art and fashion. Featuring both artist collaborations and solo collections, Sheikh's brand will forever be rooted in community.

5. Brandon Blackwood

Most known for his End Systemic Racism bag that went viral in 2020, Brandon Blackwood's eponymous accessory brand has a little something for everyone's taste, from trend-forward shearling top-handles to structured leather totes. His fans? Kim Kardashian, Paloma Elsesser, and Olivia Rodrigo, to name a few. 

6. Brother Vellies

Founded by Fifteen Percent Pledge creator Aurora James, Brother Vellies has long been a favorite among the fashion crowd, with Beyoncé, specifically, wearing pieces from the brand often and for major occasions (like in Black Is King for instance). Handcrafted and sustainably made, the brand's bold and eye-catching accessories have the power to make any outfit look 10 times cooler.

7. Concept26 Fine Jewelry

Concept26 founder Shari Smith started her luxury jewelry brand with the hope of creating an inclusive fine jewelry experience. According to the brand's website, the goal of every Concept 26 purchase is to "enhance the distinct beauty and abilities of each wearer."

8. Edas

Another responsible brand to know is Edas, founded by designer Sade Mims. Mims started the brand in 2015 using only repurposed materials to manufacture her collections. Now that her brand has grown, she's turned to a made-to-order model that allows her brand's practices to remain ethical and low-waste without sacrificing style (at all).

9. Elisa Johnson

Eyewear designer Elisa Johnson uses her personal style experiences from living in both Los Angeles and New York City to inspire her line of versatile and timeless sunglasses.

10. Fe Noel

Felisha "Fe" Noel's womenswear brand Fe Noel was influenced by the designer's Caribbean heritage and designed to help women embrace their unique femininity.

11. Hanifa

Anifa Mvuemba founded her clothing line Hanifa in 2012 and has been revolutionizing fashion ever since. In May 2020, just a few months into the pandemic, Mvuemba kick-started the virtual-runway movement that we know all too well in 2022 with an Instagram Live show using 3D models. 

12. House of Aama

Mother-daughter design duo Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka founded their Los Angeles–based brand House of Aama as a form of "spiritual expression," according to its website, using historical references to create modern fashions rooted in the Black experience. 

13. Kendra Duplantier

Kendra Duplantier launched her namesake brand smack-dab in the middle of a pandemic, making the move after a decade of planning and designing at night following her full-time day job. Shortly thereafter, she was featured on Beyoncé's stylist Zerina Aker's Black-Owned Everything list, kick-starting a roller coaster of success that's still very much going strong. Her newest collection? A selection of on-trend leather that might very well be her best one yet. 

14. Kenneth Ize

Designer Kenneth Ize's namesake brand is known for its intricate fabrics and weavings, a majority of which are handcrafted in Nigeria. 

15. Mowalola

Yeezy Gap Creative Director Mowalola Ogunlesi's namesake brand takes inspiration from the designer's upbringing both in Nigeria and London, focusing on PVC and leather materials and creating everything from tiny bags to micro miniskirts.

16. Martine Rose

London-based designer Martine Rose has long been beloved for her menswear designs but has recently been growing in the womenswear world, with style stars like Rihanna frequenting her pieces (including the below).

17. Maximilian

London-based designer Maximilian Davis worked under Grace Wales Bonner before starting off on his own and has since dressed the likes of Rihanna and Dua Lipa. Casual.

18. No Sesso

Los Angeles–based designer Pierre Davis founded the brand No Sesso, which translates from Italian to "no sex, no gender," in 2015. Davis now works alongside Arin Hayes, and together, they are leading the community-driven brand to sartorial success.

19. Petit Kouraj

Stylist Nasrin Jean-Baptiste founded her accessory brand Petit Kouraj, or “little courage” in Haitian Creole, in 2018. All of the brand's distinctive bags are handmade in Haiti, which supports the country's artisans and also allows Jean-Baptiste to stay connected with her roots.

20. Phlemuns

James Flemons, the designer and founder of Los Angeles–based unisex label Phlemuns, created his brand for everyone, regardless of who they are and how they identify. The line is supported by Elsesser and Lil Nas X.

21. Romeo Hunte

New York–based designer Romeo Hunte founded his brand in 2014 and, in the time since, has partnered with American megabrand Tommy Hilfiger and has dressed Beyoncé, Michelle Obama, and past Who What Wear cover star Tessa Thompson.

22. Theophilio

Designer Edvin Thompson uses his Jamaican heritage and experiences living in New York City as inspiration for his cult-favorite brand Theophilio.

23. Sami Miro Vintage

Founded by Los Angeles–based designer and stylist Sami Miro, Sami Miro Vintage started as solely a source for one-off vintage gems but has since transitioned into a responsible ready-to-wear brand with fans in Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid.

24. Sincerely, Tommy

Based in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, Sincerely, Tommy is Kai Avent-deLeon's concept shop that is full of independent fashion, home, and accessory brands. 

25. Sunni Sunni

D.C.-born shoe designer Sunni Dixon founded his brand of artisanal footwear, inspired by Black culture, in 2012. Since then, his pieces have been picked up by Saks Fifth Avenue and worn by Lil Nas X and Dwyane Wade.

26. Telfar

Telfar Clemens's cult-favorite clothing and accessory brand needs no introduction. Based in Brooklyn, Clemens's label has gone viral too many times to count, often because of his famous Shopping Bag, which is referred to as "the Bushwick Birkin." Recently, the designer began collaborating with industry titans like Moose Knuckles and Ugg, both of which resulted in major sellouts.

27. Thebe Magugu

South African fashion designer and 2019 LVMH Prize winner Thebe Magugu founded his namesake brand in 2015. The brand is designed to celebrate its roots while offering modern touches that are wearable by all. 

29. Vavvoune

Self-taught artisan and designer Valérie Blaise founded her accessory brand Vavvoune in Brooklyn, New York, where she comes up with the label's leather handbags in an at-home studio. From there, everything is made locally in the city's Garment District. 

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