Fashion may not discriminate, but the industry certainly has biases. Historically, systems of power have marginalized black or African-American designers, leaving them out of runway shows, news articles, or executive suites.
In recent years, however, significant progress has been made to lessen the impact of systemic racism. Many companies have adopted inclusive language in their marketing campaigns and launched initiatives to foster diversity in their teams. Louis Vuitton’s appointment of menswear designer Virgil Abloh, a Ghanaian-American as its artistic director, set an inspiring example. H&M later appointed Nigerian-American Ezinne Kwubiri, the first-ever chief of diversity and inclusion—following the footsteps of other leading companies. We’ve seen increasingly diverse runways at New York Fashion Week, with designers of all backgrounds showing their collections and receiving press coverage.
Despite these efforts, the fashion industry still lags behind when it comes to fully reflecting the world we live in. Racial bias remains present in the industry landscape and the demographic makeup of upper management. Thankfully, the work of changing this doesn’t fall solely on companies. Consumers also have a part to play in bringing about change.
It’s Black History Month, and as the country celebrates historical figures and influential black voices, there’s no better time to uplift and support black designers. Below is a list of seven black-owned brands you need to know about.