In the wake of George Floyd’s death and the world’s call to end police brutality, there are many ways to support the #BlackLivesMatter cause. Among them, you can join a protest, donate to civil rights and justice organizations, write petitions to government leaders and at the very basic level, educate yourself on the ways systemic racism has persisted in society. Another powerful way is to donate to black-owned businesses, including black-owned fashion and shoe brands.
Not only have have African American businesses been hit the hardest by Covid-19 store closures, but they’ve also historically struggled with securing capital as a result of discriminatory lending practices and lack of ties with big banks. And in the fashion industry specifically, which has profited off appropriating black culture for decades, black faces still aren’t represented equally. Black designers remain a rarity, and as reported by Forbes, Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh and Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing are the only black creative directors at major brands to this day.
Ahead, we rounded up a range of black-owned fashion and shoe brands you can shop, from big to lesser-known labels. While the list isn’t exhaustive, it offers a touching point for exercising your buying power to help enact change and keep black-owned companies like these thriving.
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Notable celebrity stylist and designer Jason Rembert debuted his first women’s collection during New York Fashion Week in February 2019 to a packed house. Although not available to shop online, his garments are accented by the use of bold colors and eye-catching embroidery — and seen on plenty of his clients and other celebrities, like Issa Rae, Billy Porter, Tiffany Haddish, Chrissy Metz and Taraji P. Henson.
Founded by Toronto-native Aurora James in 2013, Brother Vellies creates eco-friendly footwear and accessories for women. The one-of-a-kind pieces are handmade by artisans around the globe using traditional African design practices and techniques, from wicker mules to fur-embellished sandals and handbags featuring Kenyan hardwood chain links. Recently, James founded the 15 Percent Pledge, an inclusion initiative that is calling on large corporations to buy 15% of their products from black-owned businesses; so far, Sephora has signed on.
Shop here: Brothervellies.com.
Christopher John Rogers
From Baton Rouge, Louisiana, 26-year-old designer Christopher John Rogers debuted his eponymous label at New York Fashion Week in February 2020. The collection, complete with bright colors and bold, statement-making silhouettes, is available to shop at Net-a-Porter.com. Since 2016, the designer has sold made-to-order designs from his Brooklyn studio, and even created custom looks for Michelle Obama and Lizzo.
Shop here: Net-a-Porter.com.
Launching the Pyer Moss brand in 2013, 2019 FN Achievement Awards Person of the Year Kerby Jean-Raymond has used his platform and designs to celebrate black culture and raise awareness about social issues like racism, police brutality and gun violence. His looks for men and women include everything from comfy sweatpants and tees to sweeping gowns, as well a sporty line of sneakers in collaboration with Reebok (each capsule has sold out within minutes and commands high resale prices). The pieces have become favorites of entertainment’s biggest names like Rihanna, Janet Jackson and Tracee Ellis Ross.
Shop here: Pyermoss.com.
Fear of God
Also a celebrity favorite, Jerry Larenzo’s Fear of God is known for its elevated men’s streetwear staples (think oversized silhouettes and mixed media finishes) and buzzy sneaker collaborations. On June 4, the company also launched a “super collab” tee, with 100% of the proceeds going to George Floyd’s family.
Shop here: Fearofgod.com.
Rihanna’s powerhouse Fenty label truly does it all. In addition to selling a color-inclusive line of foundation shades, the brand also supplies lingerie, dresses, outwear and shoes for women — all showcasing the singer’s distinct flair for sartorial boldness.
Shop here: Fenty.com.
Just a few years after founding his eponymous label, multi-hyphenate Heron Preston has earned a notable following for his luxury streetwear pieces for men and women. The designer, who is also an artist, content creator and DJ, is inspired by sustainability and technology in his collections.
Shop Here: Heronpreston.com.
Offering red-carpet worthy looks without the high-end price tag, designer Jessica Rich’s footwear line proves you don’t have to spend a fortune to look like a movie star. Even celebrities with deep pockets, like JLo and Cardi B., wear them. Sky-high pumps and PVC stilettos start at just $99, while the brand’s most recent debut includes a line of equally affordable men’s styles.
Shop here: Jessicarich.com.
While Virgil Abloh has been the target of some controversy, there’s no denying his brand is extremely influential. From Off-White’s high-end handbags to sneakers and its signature industrial belt style, the brand’s looks have become huge among some of fashion’s hottest influencers.
Shop here: Off—white.com.
It-girls can’t seem to get enough of Merah Vodianova‘s elegant sandals, and it’s not hard to see why. The British designer has a knack for minimalist silhouettes with wispy stiletto heels and dainty ankle straps to help you shoppers nail the barely-there look.
Shop here: Merahvodianova.com.
Amina Abdul Jillil
Former dancer Amina Abdul Jillil kick-started her shoe designing career in 2012, launching a line of bold silhouettes for brides and the everyday, modern woman. Her collection is full of standout details like glittering bow embellishments and chunky hardware.
Shop here: Aminahabduljillil.com.
With a focus on minimalism, intricate details and innovative constructions, Portuguese model-turned-designer Armando Cabral makes timeless men’s shoes for every occasion. Choose between styles like loafers, derby shoes, boots and sneakers, all made by Italian artisans with premium leather.
Shop here: shop.armando-cabral.com.
For a range of cool, performance-ready basketball shoes, gear and apparel, look no further than Chicago-based label BALL’N. Since getting its start nearly 30 years ago, the brand has been backed by some of the biggest names in the game, including Los Angeles Laker forward Ron Artest and Michael Jordan (the latter who wore custom jerseys from the brand during the 1994 Pippen Summer Classic). The styles are available to shop via the company’s Facebook page, with prices topping out at $100 and inclusive sizes offered up to 3X in apparel.
Shop here: m.facebook.com/ballnbasketball.
You may have seen Carly Cushnie’s luxe designs on the red carpet. The U.K.-born designer offers stunning ready-to-wear pieces, as well as bridal looks and accessories.
Shop here: Cushnie.com.
Exotics by Cedrick
Hairstylist and entrepreneur Cedrick McDonald turned shoe sketching into an actual line of exotic-skin-accented heels in 2017 and even received a patent for his snakeskin soles, where the animal print is silk screened onto the bottoms and decorated with Swarovski crystals.
Shop here: Exotics by Cedrick.
Hope for Flowers
In 2019, fashion veteran Trace Reese put the brakes on her fast-producing fashion brand to create a new label founded on eco-friendly design practices. Called Flowers for Hope, the Detroit-based line for women uses sustainable materials, ethical production, and handwork to reduce its environmental impact.
Shop Here: Hopeforflowers.com.
Texas flair meets fine Italian craftsmanship in Kamica Hampton‘s line of luxury stilettos. Produced in Houston, the bold looks include everything from authentic snakeskin pumps with cutouts and contrasting bow details to tall caged styles done in smooth, supple leather.
Shop here: Khampton.com.
Nigerian-based brand Keexs pays homage to its roots with a collection of high-quality sneakers. Among the socially-conscious designs, you’ll find low-tops artfully illustrating Zambia’s efforts to put the first African man on the moon or “Black Power” slip-ons inspired by the city of Lagos. What’s more, the brand also hosts crowdfunding campaigns, in which it pledges to donate up to 10% of every purchase to projects aimed at alleviating poverty.
Shop here: Keexs.com.
Designed in Los Angeles and sourced and manufactured in Florence, Italy, Kendall Miles’ luxury footwear styles boast fine craftsmanship. The opulent designs, which first dropped in 2015, include finishes like supple leather, exotic furs and eye-catching metallic accents.
Shop here: Kendalmilesdesigns.com.
New York-based designer Laquan Smith started his own line at just 21 years old, and his unique creations have been worn by Lady Gaga and Kim Kardashian. From shoes to apparel, they’re characterized by strong, sultry silhouettes with features like body-hugging fits, daring cutouts and lots of patent leather.
Shop here: Laquansmith.com.
Cornering the market on plus size footwear for women, Eleanor Anukam carries flats and pumps in sizes 9 to 13. Born in Texas and raised in Nigeria, Anukam (who wears a size 12 shoe herself) uses her worldly experiences to inform her design aesthetic. Even actress and LGBTQ advocate Laverne Cox is a fan.
Shop here: Eleanor Anukam.
The brainchild of co-founders Yossi Shetrit and Davidson Petit-Frere, Lavati makes classic chelsea boots and sleek sneaker styles for men. Prior to its launch in 2016, the brand built a cult following by outfitting some of Hollywood’s coolest guys, teasing its launch on Instagram and allowing fans to partake in lotteries for a chance to win one-of-a-kind pairs.
Shop here: Lavati.com.
Sustainable label Lemlem was founded by supermodel and actress Liya Kebede in 2007. It sells boho-inspired home goods and apparel and accessories for men, women and kids made by local artisans in Ethiopia. For every direct sale made, 5% of it will go to benefit the Lemlem foundation — the brand’s non-profit arm which aims to connect female artisans in Africa to healthcare, education and job opportunities.
Shop here: Lemlem.com.
Michael Grey Footwear
After designing for major footwear labels like Roberto Cavalli, Vince Camuto and Steve Madden, Michael Grey birthed his own footwear line in 2016. Dubbed Michael Gray Footwear, it includes a capsule of simple women’s sandal styles handmade in the designer’s New-York based factory.
Shop here: Mgsandalfactory.com.
Heavily influenced by the founder’s Egyptian heritage, Negash teems with references to ancient royalty (the brand’s name, which is of African Amharic and Tigrinya origin, translates literally to “heir to the throne.”) Alongside apparel and sneakers for men, women and kids, the brand also carries a diverse selection of goods including games, health supplements and wall art.
Shop here: Negash83.com.
A former Major in the U.S. Army, Natasha Norie Standard decided to trade her time on the front lines for a career as a footwear designer. Called Norie Shoes, her line features a range of comfort-driven, Italian-made styles for women, including high heel sandals, ballerina flats and sneakers. As a tribute to the designer’s roots, each shoe is inspired by famous female leaders, from 16th century African queen Amina to more contemporary revolutionaries like the Dahomey Amazon warrior women of 18th century Benin.
Shop here: Norieshoes.com.
In what began as a Kickstarter campaign, Rock Deep now has four stores nationwide. The brand specializes in outdoor and athletic footwear and apparel for men, women and kids, selling options for nearly any activity. According to its website, the label plans to build apparel factories in undeserved areas across America.
Shop here: Rockdeep.com.
Ron Donovan is no newcomer to the world of design, but if you’re not familiar with his work, he’s definitely worth noting. The FGI Rising Star Finalist has over 20 years of experience crafting apparel, footwear and accessories for his namesake label, and may be best known for his handsome men’s dress shoes that can be made to order in sizes up to 16.
Shop here: Rondonovandesigns.com.
Another great brand catering to women with large feet, Samanta Shoes offers comfortable and versatile silhouettes available in up to size 14. They’ve been worn by stars like Tyra Banks, Debra Messing and Wendy Williams.
Shop here: Samantashoes.com.
From statement pieces to wardrobe staples, Sergio Hudson‘s ready-to-wear label for women is sultry, elegant and a little bit androgynous, too. With a track record of dressing high-profile names like Beyoncé and Regina King, and a fall ’20 NYFW week debut to boot, he’s shows no signs of slowing down.
Shop here: Sergiohudson.com.
Ethically produced and eco-friendly, Sole Rebels offers made-to-order footwear crafted by artisans in Ethiopia. All styles use 100% sustainable materials, featuring soles made of recycled tires for maximum comfort. The brand also offers vegan options that are equal parts stylish and functional, complete with colorful canvas uppers.
Shop here: Solerebels.com.
Tiannia Barnes‘ Italian-made label features contemporary heels, flats and sandals. With an ethos for empowering women, the brand includes two aptly named collections, called Freedom and Inspire, that are complete with bold accents like clear stiletto heels and bright fringe. She also sells a signature tee in which a portion of the proceeds are donated to local and national charities.
Shop here: Tianniabarnes.com.
For those who love classic footwear silhouettes with a subtle dose of edge, check out Titi Adesa‘s line. Her understated looks feature cant-miss twists like smooth leather pumps with laser-cuter details and elegant mules with contrasting mesh. They’re hand-crafted in Milan, so you can rest assured you’re paying for top quality. Plus, you’ll be supporting a brand with a philanthropic mission. Through resources like educational sponsorship and mentorship, the Tita Adesa Foundation aims to bolster young women in under-served African communities who aspire to be designers.
Shop here: Titiadesa.com.
LA-based Aazhia Rhy offers up a range of modern, monochromatic looks for women. Her brand also creates custom garments and affordably priced accessories. What’s more, 100% of proceeds from the sale of its signature “love” tote go towards filling another tote that the brand will personally distribute to the homeless.
Shop here: Tlzlf.com.
One of the nation’s few black manufacturers of handmade luxury Italian leather shoes, goods and accessories for men and women, Tucci Polo has earned international acclaim in just a short span of time. The brand’s pieces have been sported by business executive and high-profile celebrities alike. Showcasing intricate details, every pair of shoes features unique stitching and hand-painting, often with signature color-blocking and ombré finishes.
Shop here: Tuccipolo.com.
In case you didn’t know, Etsy is home to tons of black-owned shops you can support, including categories of home to beauty and fashion. If you’re looking for some stylish jewelry to add to your wardrobe, check out Lingua Nigra on the platform. Its Chicago-based designer Alicia Goodwin handcrafts sculptural necklaces, earrings, bangles and rings, meaning no two looks are the exactly the same.
Shop here: Etsy.com.