After a monumental year that catapulted the #BlackLivesMatter movement into the mainstream, black-owned fashion brands are gaining some well-deserved traction. We round-up some rail-worthy womenswear and accessories brands that will bring diversity and glamour to your boutique…
SANTE + WADE
Established by Shola Asante and Agnès Cushnie in 2019, SANTE + WADE is a premium disruptive footwear label that focuses on inclusivity, offering a range of high quality, comfortable and versatile products up to size EU 46 in standard and wide fit. Its customers are modern women looking for choice, comfort and quality with no concessions, while its inclusive ethos appeals to those who’ve been expected to fade into the background. Each collection offers a range of beautifully crafted and comfortable shoes that will take the wearer from one occasion to the next. The brand works with multi-generational factories in Portugal that share its values while it sources long-lasting leathers of Spanish and Italian origin. It also uses 100 per cent recycled packaging, recycled cork beds on its sneakers and veg-tanned leathers. SANTE + WADE’s designs have been worn by celebrities such as Kate Winslet and Paris Lee, while it has been short-listed for Best New Brand and Team of the Year in the Drapers Footwear Awards 2021.
APRIL AND ALEX
UK-based womenswear brand April and Alex creates bold and edgy, fashion-forward pieces for the empowered woman. The label is the creation of British/Nigerian award-winning journalist and creative director Didi Akinyelure who was inspired by mother’s career as a fashion designer and grandmother’s success as the owner of a tailoring business. The brand launched in 2018 and offers striking garments for powerful and independent women. Its pieces are edgy, daring and innovative with standout designs including oversized puff sleeved tops and show-stopping dresses.
Founded by IB Oyerinde, a fashion model with Nigerian roots living in the US and Europe, Lola Tara offers a capsule collection of luxury jumpsuits, dresses and coordinates. The label’s timeless investment pieces can be dressed up or down, offering versatile garments that can be worn for work, special occasions and off-duty. Its premium range includes high-end made-in-the-UK pieces crafted in materials such as Japanese poly satin. Standout styles include the Sahara jumpsuit, Aspen shirt dress and wide-leg Siena trousers. Buyers can choose from a selection of styles and colourways to create their own unique edit.
Footwear brand Emme Cadeau merges two of its founder’s major influences: Caribbean flair and New York Edge. Designer Marcella Gift grew up on the on the island of Trinidad and Tobago, which is reflected in the brand’s uniqueness of materials used to create it footwear. Today she lives in New York City, which also influences her designs via structure, shape and fit. Comfort is a key focus for each of her designs and Gift tests each shoe herself before they join the collection, wearing them continuously over several days before making tweaks. Each style is made in Portugal and features arch support and a three-layer foam insole to support the feet. Key styles include leather sneakers in eye-catching prints, bold towering party shoes and kitten heels. The brand also aims to be inclusive in its sizing offering shoes running from EU 35 to 45.
Emerging black-owned fashion brand Shahini Fakhourie creates minimalist, high-end streetwear designs with a focus on art, fashion and sustainability. Its eponymous Miami -based designer focuses on sustainability, affordability, quality and transparency while delving into the past to create a women’s capsule collection that is as bold and innovative as its wearer. Founded in 2017 with the first capsule range produced in 2019, the label’s garments feature sustainable, UPF 50 and vegan fabrics, which are made in Brooklyn NYC inside a zero-waste factory. Key pieces include the open back Kelly dress (pictured) with woven metal straps and zipper trim along the neckline.
HOUSE OF RG
The decadent glamour, beautiful embellishment and vibrant opulence of Nigerian culture is embodied by contemporary brand House of RG, which fuses designer Dorothy L Ogwuru’s African heritage with sharp, bold designs. Each of its garments are made from 100 per cent cutton, hand-beaded, elegantly hand-cut and custom handcrafted with limited runs and statement silhouettes, adornment and patterns. The brand is now being stocked by Selfridges as part of the retailer’s new initiative to increase its representation of black-owned brands. Its capsule collection for the luxury department store includes the striking Erinma split-hem embellished mini dress with front split, capped sleeves, scoop neck, velvet texture and all-over bead and rhinestone embellishment. There’s also the head-turning Ume V-neck embellished mini dress, with long sleeves, wrap-over front and all-over bead and rhinestone embellishment.