There are so many brilliant black-owned fashion brands of all price points and styles, from clothing to jewellery, bags, shoes and more. So we wanted to set aside a space especially to make some noise about them, raise their profile and bring them onto your radar. Here are just a few of our favourites that we think are great and that you should know about.
The black-owned fashion brands to shop from now
SIKA was founded in 2005 by Phyllis Taylor, with the vision that fashion has the power and potential to make a positive contribution to society. The brand’s ethos is to produce quality ‘made in Africa’ garments for the international market while proving that garment production can successfully have social and environmental responsibilities at its core.
All SIKA garments are designed in London and handmade in Ghana, Africa. As well as its own collections, it has created collaborative lines for ASOS and YOOX.
lemlem was founded by Ethiopian supermodel, actress and maternal health advocate Liya Kebede. The brand is an artisan-driven collection of women’s, men’s, children’s and home goods made entirely in Africa.
In summer, lemlem collaborated with high street favourite H&M for a new collection showcasing its signature joyous aesthetic play.
Grace Wales Bonner is ‘informed by broad research encompassing critical theory, musical composition, literature and history,’ for her designs, embracing ‘a multiplicity of perspectives, proposing a distinct notion of luxury, via a hybrid of European and Afro-Atlantic approaches.’
Since graduating from esteemed fashion college Central Saint Martins and launching her eponymous label in 2014, she has been the recipient of multiple awards, including Emerging Menswear Designer at the British Fashion Awards and the LVMH Young Designer Prize. Oh, and she also designed the dress Meghan Markle wore for Archie’s first press shoot as a baby.
The head designer for Lisou, Rene Macdonald, moved from Tanzania to the UK as a child but always travelled back to Africa. The culture has influenced her designs for Lisou, which focuses on using luxury silks in a creative, exciting way.
Forbes described Lisou as: ‘The London-based fashion brand that brings happy vibes’.
Savage X Fenty
Savage X Fenty is the lingerie brand from mega star Rihanna, who became the first black woman to head a luxury brand for LVMH in 2019 with her origin brand, Fenty. ‘Savage X Fenty celebrates fearlessness, confidence and inclusivity. In partnership with a team assembled from the industry’s elite, the label has disrupted and redefined the marketplace with its accessible price point and extensive assortment of lingerie.’
The brand has been such a hit with fans, it was included in the TIME100 Most Influential Companies of 2021 list.
Designer Yvonne Telford describes her label the best: ‘The clothes we sell are more than just stylish clothes; they are loud, bold and tell the whole world, “Look at me, I am fabulous.” Some of the clothes sold here have a Nigerian influence, but with a western twist. What is important is that our clothes speak for the women who wear them. Our clothes encourage women to take up their rightful place. They encourage them to stop shrinking themselves… something I have had to work on, and I am still working on.’
Last year, Kemi Telford launched an exclusive collection with John Lewis and it was everything we hoped it would be.
This London-based brand has a fan club including Brit Award 2020 nominee Joy Crookes, Fleur East and influencer Caro Ogliaro. Creative Director Aissata writes on the website: ‘I wanted a place where I can continue to elevate my own language of design and create pieces where whoever wears my clothes can feel their best self, defining their own world and their own uniform… It’s simple really, I just want to make clothes that make you feel good’.
The brand is focused on playing its part in maintaining a sustainable fashion model, so all its pieces are currently made to order.
In 2013, Aurora James launched footwear brand Brother Vellies, which produces shoes made from traditional black craftsmanship. The footwear is ‘designed in Brooklyn, handcrafted sustainably with artisans spanning Nairobi to New York.’
Based in Johannesburg, South Africa, Thebe Magugu celebrates its African roots with luxury fashion pieces. The brand is held in very high regard, winning the LVMH prize in 2019.
Worn by the likes of Kylie Jenner, Jordyn Woods and British model Jourdan Dunn, Farai London makes British luxury resortwear that’s designed in East London. Its mission is to ‘redefine womenswear to produce adventurous bold and beauteous pieces’ that denote its ‘commitment to superior quality’.
Any fashion influencer worth their salt has a ROOP bag – the fun slouchy bags are fast earning a name for themselves in fashion circles, which may go some way to explaining why new styles instantly sell out the moment they launch on the website. Only using remnant or vintage fabric, Natasha lovingly designs and makes her limited edition bags and scrunchies herself in the UK – follow @itsrooper on Instagram to be informed of the latest drops and then move fast!
Not Just Another Store
A conceptual and experiential retailer, Not Just Another Store forms a community retail space that detaches from all the restrictions, rules and norms placed upon existing retail spaces. Collaborations with creatives and designers are at the brand’s core, and women’s fashion isn’t where it stops – Not Just Another Store also curates edits of menswear, homeware, literature, art and interiors as well as holding events, installations and exhibitions in their physical Shoreditch store.
A A K S
Founded and designed by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi, A A K S is a line of stunning handcrafted summer raffia bags. Bold, bright and beautiful, A A K S was founded with the goal of introducing the world to Akosua’s ‘favourite weaving techniques done by the women of Ghana while also creating and igniting sustainable jobs within Africa. Handcrafted in Ghana, A A K S creates bags in styles that maintain the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts characterised by bright exuberant colours.’
‘London-based fashion stylist Irene Agbontaen has created TTYA London: an apparel brand offering accessible, modern, functional pieces that are specifically cut for women who are 5’9” or taller, as well-fitting staple pieces are the foundation to effortless style, whatever your height or size.
‘Not based on trend or seasonal collections, TTYA offers tall women a range of staple timeless pieces with key wardrobe essentials, designed to last beyond the season and fit in with any woman’s existing wardrobe and style.’
Chalk is a London based design studio run by architect Malaika who creates unusual, geometric, wearable forms. Her passion for beautifully crafted design in all its forms, from the structure of large cityscapes to the intricacies of fine jewellery pieces, results in a beautiful collection of handmade architectural pieces.
Daily Paper is an Amsterdam-based fashion and lifestyle brand established by three childhood friends, Hussein, Jefferson and Abderrahmane, who bonded over their shared a love for music, art, fashion and culture.
‘Fuelled by the rich heritage of African culture wrapped in contemporary designs, Daily Paper has truly become one of the fastest growing fashion brands out of Europe. With two collections a year focusing on both men and womenswear, Daily Paper offers timeless designs across accessories, ready to wear and a range of capsules across the season.’
Nubian Skin designs lingerie and hosiery in black and brown skin tones, after founder Ade Hassan was fed up of the industry not catering for women of colour. ‘My nude isn’t the nude I see in shops. Despite the reality that women of colour have the same needs as all women when it comes to lingerie and hosiery, the industry simply doesn’t cater to us. So, I thought, it’s time to rethink the definition of nude,’ says Ade.
With a deep passion for women and equality, fashion and travel blogger Fisayo Longe founded Kai Collective, a London-based womenswear brand of attainable clothing with luxury aesthetics. ‘Through clothing, we communicate with women and inspire that extra dose of confidence.’
On 12 February, Kai Collective released a statement saying its website will be closing temporarily ‘so that we can bring you a better KAI and also prioritise the mental health of our team’.
atijọ is a collection of exclusively curated vintage, secondhand, and artisan products that you must DM the brand vis Instagram to purchase, curated by Anu Odugbesan, Londiwe Ncube, Safiya Yekwai and Caitlin Moriarty.
RetroRhapsody is an Etsy shop based in the US that’s full of beautiful found vintage items, styled superbly and in excellent condition.
Half Baked London
Half Baked is a swimwear brand based in East London. The brand was born in 2017 from the desire to create luxury swimwear that works with the body and feels like a second skin. Collections consist of classic shapes and are made from lightweight Italian fabric, with UV protection, which is kind to your skin.
Founded in September 2020 by US-based designer Ona Utuama, this brand embraces its cultural values and appeals to a person ‘who is bold, confident and unrepentant about style’. Collections feature African patterns, neutral designs, and Asian chakra art. The glasses are designed with varying nose shapes and sizes in mind, so you can find the right fit for you. Designer, Ona says: ‘I want the world to see people and their culture through their own eyes’.
Sabirah is a luxury ‘Demi Couture, modest wear brand for ALL women’. Founded by stylist Deborah Latouche, it was created from a desire to find the perfect occasion wear for the modest dresser. The brand describes itself as ‘modern yet timeless, graceful yet fashion-forward’. Plus, Sabirah’s sustainable practices mean that it uses end of roll luxurious fabrics, silks, jacquard and fine cottons, so that each piece is exclusive.
ULOANI was founded in Canada in 2019 by Homa Ogundu. The brand is inspired by the Nigerian fashion scene and is designed to stand out from the crowd. The name ULOANI is taken from the Igbo word ‘Ulo’ which means House and ‘Ani’ which is the Igbo word for ‘Goddess of Creativity’.
Afroani believes in creating vegan friendly formulas for the best clean hair care experience. The brand was created in 2020 by Anita Lusuardi, a full-time mum and natural hair content creator. Growing up in italy, she didn’t see hair that looked like hers and just wanted to fit in. After finding the natural hair community on Instagram, she realised how many women like her were always in search for the perfect clean hair care products and accessories.
April & Alex
April & Alex is a UK-based brand owned by British/Nigerian award-winning journalist and Creative Director, Didi Akinyelure. The brand is driven by a mission to create contemporary womenswear that ’emphasises boldness and shines a light on the empowerment of women’.
DUMEBI is another of the black-owned fashion brands founded in the UK, by Barbara Biosah. The designs are inspired by Barbara’s Nigeran heritage, and have showcased at London and International Fashion Weeks, as well as being a profiled British Fashion Council brand. Barbara suffers from sickle cell anaemia, so DUMEBI is the official sponsor for Gideon’s Treasure (a Sickle Cell Anaemia charity) and 20 per cent of its sales go towards funding initiatives.
LJ Signature is a premium women’s nightwear brand created by relatives Lisa and Jaqueline during the pandemic. It’s designed to ‘celebrate the happy union of nightwear and headscarf’s at bedtime’. Since launching in 2020, the brand secured a pop-up spot in John Lewis in 2021.
Le’Foreign was launched in May 2021 by Sheraine Carter, who’s originally from Central America. As of September that same year, the Us-based brand had already shown at New York Fashion Week. The collections feature a variety of activewear and athleisure, including swimsuits, bodysuits, midi dresses and tracksuits. Each product is specifically designed with only black and white fabric.