20 Ethical Black-Owned Brands
Updated: Aug 9, 2022
Cover Image from A A K S
As a Black woman whose family was enslaved in the cotton fields of South Carolina and Georgia and has experienced centuries of continued oppression, the topic of fashion and an ethical supply chain hits really close to home. So I am super excited to present to you this list of 20 amazing ethical, Black-owned fashion brands.
The truth is, we live in a racially and ethnically unjust world that is sick with the lie of white supremacy among other forms of oppression. Nearly all fashion brands are dependent upon and profit off of the labor of BIPOC globally.
However, as a result of racism and colonialism, white-led work, with more access to both monetary and perceived social capital, too often rises to the top, even when it has been appropriated from BIPOC people and cultures. Meanwhile, the voices, creativity, artistry, design, and heritages of Black and Brown people worldwide are too often silenced or belittled.
It is for these reasons that we are dedicated to showcasing Black designers and founders from all over the world and their brilliant work!
1. The Tiny Closet
Image from The Tiny Closet
Ethicality Details: "All garments are sewn with care by the same hands, start to finish. No assembly lines here. And as I plan to expand, I will continue to make sure The Tiny Closet operates ethically and sustainably in virtually everything that I do, from electricity use to tools, to mindful employment and of course, the fibers, dyes and textiles used."
The Tiny Closet is an LA-based brand created by Nat. They have three rules: 1) all pieces are made to order, 2) they only use deadstock fabric, 3) and almost no scraps are wasted. I love their elegant and timeless pieces. They offer a solid mix of neutral colors and classic prints.
2. Oak & Acorn
Image from Oak & Acorn
Ethicality Details: "Sustainability is the ethos of our brand. OAK & ACORN threads eco-fabrics, historic storytelling & social impact with innovative fashion. Our commitment to sustainability means our products are made up of eco-fibers like Hemp, Refibra & Tencel, recycled & repurposed denim, natural indigo artisan textiles & deadstock fabrics."
"Oak & Acorn is the FIRST sustainable denim-based brand in Harlem, New York USA. The genderless, luxury denim pays homage to the UNTOLD HISTORY of the Indigenous American & the enslaved African’s contributions that have shaped American manufacturing & American Denim." I learned about Oak & Acorn and its founder Miko Underwood on The Root, with Dominique Drakeford and Kestrel Jenkins on the awesome podcast, Conscious Chatter. Miko is an expert in denim and embodies a commitment to sustainability in denim and to teaching the untold history of denim in the United States through her beautiful work. And talk about fashionable while still being timeless! Her pieces are so freaking cool.
3. NIA THOMAS
Image from Nia Thomas
Ethicality Details: "NIA THOMAS basics are locally made in NYC’s garment district by a small female led garment factory. Our knitwear is produced ethically in Mexico and Hong Kong where she never produces more than 50 pieces to ensure that waste is minimized throughout the production of each garment."
Nia Thomas is a gorgeous brand created by Nia Thomas herself. She creates on her own schedule and with a deep sense of intuition, both of which are reflected in her unique, cozy yet chic pieces.
4. Asata Maisé
Image from Asata Maisé
Ethicality Details: "Most items require a lengthy process of handcrafted production. Each piece could take days to months to complete. Therefore, items are added when the creative process is finished and the items are ready to ship."
"Asata Maisé was established by Asata Maisé Beeks after nearly 15 years of garment construction exploration. The brand reflects the designer's core values of integrity, beauty, and authenticity through the means of exceptional fabrications and attentively selected materials." Her intentional manufacturing process is evidence of her deep commitment to slow, ethical fashion! I love her unique, colorful pieces.
Image from FATRA
Ethicality Details: "FATRA handbags embody ethical fashion futurism - infusing repurposed plastic containers such as laundry detergent, coffee, and cookie containers as the body of every bag. FATRA wants to reintroduce waste back into the production process, in order to cut down on the pollution of plastic and textile pollution."
FATRA is the definition of sustainability! FATRA's founder Akilah Stewart handmakes her stunning handbags using old plastic containers that otherwise would have most likely ended up in landfills. She is also dedicated to helping other Black women achieve their dreams. I admire her deeply! You can check out an interview I did with her on our IG page.
6. Kind Socks
Image from Kind Socks
Ethicality Details: "In order to create quality wear for the next era, Kind Socks works with high quality, sustainable organic cotton. Kind Socks carefully selects its production partners who help with the process of turning materials into beautiful accessories. The Kind Socks collection is made with a GOTs certified organic cotton sock manufacturer based Turkey."
Kind Socks is based in Stockholm, Sweden and was founded by Stephen who says, "Kind Socks happened in the morning when I couldn't find a pair of clean socks. I had talked about making socks several times before, but it always stayed at the idea stage and never really moved any further. I am a fan of colour, but more importantly sustainable and ethical products, but when it came to socks, I was buying something that was either colourful or ethical, rarely both." I adore their creative and colorful styles. Socks are such a great way to add a pop of color to your life!
Image from soleRebels
Ethicality Details: "We care deeply about our community, employing dozens of talented artisans, providing full medical benefits and education funds for our employees and their families, and offering wages 3 times the industry average." soleRebels has its own factory in the Ethiopian capitol of Addis Ababa where they handcraft each and every pair.
"Bethlehem Tilahun Alemu founded soleRebels as a way to blend her Ethiopian community’s creative artisan talents with the traditional ‘barabasso’ (Ethiopian recycled tire) shoe. The result is uniquely original footwear, driven by the ethos of ethical production, sustainable materials, and maximum comfort." Their shoes look super comfy and come with an incredible story.
8. Dynasty George
Image from Dynasty George
Ethicality Details: "We only work with small, ethical, and certified workshops to produce for our brand. Ethical production means that all of our workers are paid a living wage, work normal hours, are adults (no child labor), and are working in safe conditions. We establish personal relationships with our artisans and makers to ensure their happiness and safety is at the forefront of everything we do."
Dynasty George was founded by Dynasty Cassanova who comes from a long line of powerful Puerto Rican women. I absolutely love how they define what it means to purchase one of their pieces, "Owning a Dynasty George garment is an investment. You're paying for healthy labor, beautiful quality, a less congested landfill, and a celebration of womanhood. Each of our garments are a precious heirloom, meant to grow with you through every stage of your life and passed down to future generations." And the pieces are gorgeous! It doesn't get better than that.
9. Chelsea Bravo
Image from Chelsea Bravo
Ethicality Details: "Describing her design process as, “Explorations and Expressions of Creativity”, the collections creatively infuse an artistic hand through illustrative abstract hand-painting and elements of hand-embroidery and appliqué. All combined with fabrics such as Hemp, Linen, and Organic cotton through open, playful and free shapes in contemporary silhouettes."
Originally a menswear brand, "Chelsea Bravo’s collections now feature menswear, womenswear, and unisex styles as well as One of A Kind pieces made from repurposed materials. In 2018 Bravo relocated from London to Brooklyn, New York. The collections are designed, sampled, and made to order in-studio by Chelsea Bravo." Her pieces are absolutely beautiful and handmade.
10. Threads of Habit
Image from Threads of Habit
Ethicality Details: "Halima began heavily thrifting for herself and in 2015 founded Threads of Habit as an outlet for her shopping "habit". She searches the tri-state area for bold, eccentric, and unique vintage pieces. Halima also designs one of a kind garments from sustainable materials such as vintage clothing and secondhand fabric."
Threads of Habit is one of my favorite brands to follow on IG, Halima's ability to take old vintage pieces and rework them and make them new is incredible. Her site offers both vintage pieces as they are and her new creations. She has a strong commitment to sustainability and that shows in everything she does!
11. Valerie Madison
Image from Valerie Madison
Ethicality Details: "Our team of 12 employees will help facilitate the best possible experience for your jewelry needs. With a focus on community, craft, conscience, and celebrations, we vow to deliver our best to you. We pride ourselves on local production by making all our pieces here in Seattle, WA. This means you can rest assured knowing that while our work can be found globally, we keep our footprint close to home which reduces waste, carbon emissions, and consumption of fossil fuels and it also helps our local economy."
If you are looking for an engagement ring, wedding band, any kind of jewelry, look here first! They have so many stunning options I have no doubt you'll find one you like.
12. ALIYA WANEK
Image from Aliya Wanek
Ethicality Details: "Founded in 2016, ALIYA WANEK is an eponymous womenswear label that focuses on exploring the connection between one’s identity and style. Our mission is to create comfortable, stylish clothing ethically and sustainably as an extension of the wearer’s individuality. If not sewing the garments herself, Aliya works with two small factories and local contractors in the Bay Area to produce and dye her garments, always taking into consideration ways to reduce the brand’s environmental impact."
Aliya Wanek is based in the Bay Area and offers timeless, colorful, comfortable clothing that can be worn on so many different occasions. I love, love, love the pops of color their pieces offer while still being classy, cozy, and elegant.
13. A A K S
Image from A A K S
Ethicality Details: "Handcrafted in Ghana, A A K S creates handbags in styles that seeks to conserve the provenance of weaving as an art form, accentuated with the bright exuberant colours of Africa.
The essence of A A K S design philosophy is enshrined in these three main pillars: designs that embodies a critical attention to craftsmanship, ethical and sustainable values in the production cycle, and a high-quality finished product which will never be mass produced."
"A A K S was founded by Akosua Afriyie-Kumi with the goal of introducing the world to her favourite weaving techniques by the women of Ghana, increasing awareness around ethical production processes and encouraging sustainable consumption in the fashion world." Their bags are strikingly beautiful and wildly unique.
14. Andrea Bonelli
Image from Andrea Bonelli
Ethicality Details: "All of my jewelry is handcrafted by me in my Private Studio...and I use SCS recycled metals and ethically mined stones in my jewelry. I purchase metals from reputable US-based suppliers that follow high standards for recycled metals and green processing. I was an Eco Friendly Jeweler way before it became popular and to this day I still adhere to strict ethical standards. This makes my supplier pool very small but I'd rather be ethical and maintain green practices than contribute to further pollution.
I also source out stone cutters and diamond suppliers such as Dream Diamond Ltd. that follow ethical mining standards to ensure that I'm creating pieces that you can wear with confidence."
Andrea embodies ethicality and intentionality. It's incredible that she makes all of these pieces herself! The skill and creativity that must take... Please visit this site before you shop anywhere else for your fine jewelry. I can't wait to be able to purchase a piece myself!
15. Sakina M'Sa
Image from Sakina M'Sa
Ethicality Details: Sakina M'Sa is a well-known, and award-winning French designer. Her brand is a leader in the "englighted fashion" movement. Their studio is located in a historically African part of Paris and works with women of all walks of life. They also produce some of their pieces in carefully vetted factories in other parts of Europe.
They offer unique and colorful pieces for all different occasions and have a deep commitment to women's empowerment and local production.
16. BUKI AKOMOLAFE
Image from BUKI AKOMOLAFE
Ethicality Details: "The small-scale collections are fully handcrafted with care in her studio and a small manufacturer in Berlin. Besides the Basic range, BUKI AKOMOLAFE is specialized in the creation of unique Quilt pieces, that are reversible and limited editions."
"BUKI AKOMOLAFE is a Berlin-based clothing label founded by Buki Akomolafe in 2016. Her German/Nigerian heritage bring a diverse background of tradition, handcraft, design experience, and aesthetic vision." I think they describe their style best "BUKI AKOMOLAFE is an homage to the gentlewoman of today. A refined balance between clean European classical tailoring and traditional craftsmanship, and techniques of West-Africa...The label uses only high quality, eco-organic materials like: certified cotton, organic Hemp-Silk, and individual African waxprints." If you're looking to elevate your style to something that is luxury, chic, but will also have you looking hip in the U.S., Europe, or West Africa, this is your brand.
17. inperfect denim
Image from inperfect denim
Ethicality Details: "Everything sold on inperfect denim is hand dyed (bleached) uniquely, with traditional dye techniques and hand brushing. Each pair of denim is different, nothing is the same. Denim sizes are all vintage and range from 25 to 46 [inch] waists. All the accessories are handmade from recycled denim and use the same bleach techniques."
"inperfect denim is 100% LBBTQ+ and Black-Owned and proud of it. Everything you see here is the work of young, create Black minds." This is sustainable couture! Brands like inperfect denim epitomize sustainability and are the way forward, period. I look forward to seeing this Brooklyn-based brand continue to grow!
18. Almost on Time
Image from Almost on Time
Ethicality Details: "Each garment is designed by Kayla and handcrafted by her or her small team of local seamstresses. AOT is a part of the slow fashion movement and makes a conscious effort toward innovation and sustainability.
A large emphasis is placed on keeping old clothing in use for as long as possible, making garments that last, and using renewable materials to make new garments."
Almost on Time blends corsetry and streetwear in a way I've never seen before. It is a "long-term design project by Kayla Sade. It was created as a platform to showcase the evolution of her work as she experiments with design and reconstruction of pre-loved garments, second-hand, and sustainable materials. AOT is known for its modern interpretations of corsetry and designs are inspired by feminine silhouettes, sports and streetwear."I love that her pieces are experimental, one of a kind, sporty, and sexy.
19. Two Days Off
Image from Two Days Off
Ethicality Details: "Two Days Off is an independently woman-owned, carbon neutral lifestyle brand committed to creating a sense of ease everyday. We believe thoughtfully crafted clothes will be loved, that loved clothes last, and you deserve the ease associated with knowing your wardrobe was artfully, ethically, and sustainably made. Our garments are designed for longevity, and cut and sewn in small batches in Los Angeles, California."
Two Days Off is an awesome brand based in LA. They have clothing, scarves, socks, and jewelry. Their timeless pieces mix comfort with elegance and can be worn in many different settings. I am a big fan of this brand, its designs, and its ethos!
20. Vintage Brands:
Secondhand marketplaces are at the core of ethical fashion. Although Integrity Wardrobe focuses primarily on brands that create their own pieces. If you're looking for some stunning pieces at a more affordable price, I HIGHLY recommend you check these brands out!
"Stylish vintage fashion for the modern woman"
"Tatyana... created JDV in efforts to combat fast fashion and bring quality sustainable styles to her community all while giving back to women in need."