February is Black History Month, and when we look around - and within - at the work still to be done to dismantle prejudice, inequality and systemic racism, we can’t help but notice how pretty darn white our industry is. Search #ethicalstyle on Insta and you’ll see who gets to take up the most space (spoiler: light-skinned, thin people); that’s echoed in who gets recognized for industry leadership.
Black History Month is about acknowledging and celebrating the oft-overlooked contributions and achievements of Black North Americans throughout history. We’ll be focusing on the present day, recognizing that there’s nothing sustainable about an industry that excludes.
Join us this month as we celebrate the achievements of Black creators, designers, artists, brands, educators, influencers, and experts, all of whom are driving the ethical fashion movement towards social and environmental sustainability. We’re starting with a list of some of our favourite Black-owned brands and content creators. We’ll be adding to this list all month long, and if you’ve got suggestions, please do email us - we’ll make sure they’re posted, too.
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GOODEE is a fellow Certified B Corporation (learn more about how Bs are setting the global standard for corporate sustainability here) founded in 2017 by Byron and Dexter Peart. GOODEE is a leading curated marketplace centered around responsible brands and artisans that offer essential homewares and timeless lifestyle products. They believe that “conscious commerce has the power to transform the world” and hope to “empower both creators and consumers to create change by championing community, transparency and sustainability.” Some of our top picks: Organic Cotton Tote by @goodee and African American Culture Bundle @artbook.
Msichana (ms-cha-na), meaning “young woman” in Swahili, was founded by our friend and admired colleague Lorna Mutegyeki. Msichana’s designs are proudly made in Edmonton, Canada, with fabrics sourced and handwoven by female artisans across various African countries. The intricate textiles fuse cultures across the globe, creating one-of-a-kind “wearable art” clothing. They hope to amplify the “art and soul of a woman” and are committed to creating safe and ethical workplaces, providing fair wages to their artisans and aiming for zero-waste production.
BUNO Design creates sustainable handmade jewelry by repurposing old, vintage materials. Currently, all the jewelry is designed and handcrafted in St. Albert, Canada by co-founder and jewelry designer Esmahan. BUNO Design is also committed to reducing their environmental impact by using eco-friendly marketing materials and product packaging - we’re obsessed with their Drop Geometric Earrings.
Founded by celebrity stylist Dechel Mckillian, Galerie.LA is a marketplace curated to “foster a community of conscious consumers by carrying brands that truly have an impact in their community and save the planet through fashion”. Their online store is organized by values (e.g. BIPOC-owned, eco-friendly, recycled, vegan, etc.) making sustainable and socially conscious shopping easy. Our favourites: Botanica Lavender Roller by @botanica.company and Plant Dyed Corduroy Pant by @backbeat.co .
Founded by self-proclaimed beach bum Kayla Bell, Arrow + Phoenix Swim proudly manufactures in Paradise, Nevada and caters to cup sizes A-H and letter sizes XS-3X. Asking “What good is it to sell a bikini when if we don't protect the earth, we will no longer have beaches to frequent?”, their collection is made from 100% recycled materials. $5 from every order goes towards The Coral Restoration Foundation, and they’ve launched a recycling program where you can ship your well-loved bikini back to them for a discount on your next order (side note - yes, we’ll be bringing our Belt Buyback back after COVID!).
Aja Barber (@ajabarber)
Writer, stylist, consultant, and author of the book “Consumed”, Aja Barber “asks us to look at how and why we buy what we buy, how it's created, who it benefits, and how we can solve the problems created by a wasteful system.” Diving deep into sustainability and fashion, and the ways that they intersect with race, gender, colonialism, and wealth inequality, she exposes the uncomfortable truths about the ways that we consume - and invites us to challenge the status quo with her. We enthusiastically accept.
Leah V (@lvernon2000)
Award-winning author? Check. Social media influencer? Also check. Public speaker, educator and content creator? Ch-ch-check. Leah V. is taking the world by storm and has been featured everywhere from the New York Times to Buzzfeed. Her 2019 book “Unashamed: Musing of a Fat Black Muslim” details her relationship with her faith, race, weight, sexuality, and more. Follow for honest reflections and rebellion against body shame and Western beauty standards.
Dominique Drakeford (@dominiquedrakeford)
Dominique Drakeford is a writer, influencer, public speaker, and environmental justice advocate, using her platform and extensive background in environmental management and fashion to “educate and disrupt un-sustainable systems while simultaneously celebrate [her] Blackness.” One of the systems she’s disrupting? The expectation that we “do it all” while parenting. Baby Sage makes regular appearances, as do “systemic f***ery Sundays.” Yeah, we’ll show up for that.
Jazmine Rogers (@thatcurlytop)
A sustainable fashion and lifestyle content creator, Jazmine Rogers is living proof that ethical fashion doesn’t have to be boring. Her style is bright and bold (think neon green jackets and orange bustiers), and she encourages people to slow down their consumption and be proud outfit repeaters (and yes, even has a hashtag for that - #ReWearThat). Love.
Lydia Okello (@styleisstyle)
Writer, digital content creator, model, and self-described “fat non-binary fashion person” Lydia Okello is passionate about storytelling through fashion. Their recent bylines at Vogue and FASHION include deep dives into size-inclusivity (or lack of) in the sustainable fashion industry; we bet you won’t disagree with their assertion that the goal with size diversity and inclusivity within the sustainable fashion industry is “to build a long-lasting relationship with a demographic that has become accustomed to being let down”. We couldn’t agree more!