Black consumers now have a voice more than ever. If we don’t agree with something politically, racially or ethically, we have the power to get you up and out. Nothing holds truer than the racially-driven mishap by H&M brand that put a monkey hoodie on a small chocolate boy. I consciously haven’t shopped there since. Some things just can’t be overlooked. This goes for the millions of fashion houses that traffic their goods out of under-developed communities in China and Africa for minuscule prices and under harsh work conditions.
We now have a choice. The internet so graciously unveils another side of the coin that embraces ethically produced, organic and fair waged goods by some of the most high-quality and compelling brands. And guess what? Most are ran and created by people that look just like me and you.
Looking for quality and a connection to good? Check out these ethically produced brands that are creating a new wave of consciousness:
Toronto-native, former Los Angeles resident, and current New York City-transplant, Creative Director and founder Aurora James started Brother Vellies in Brooklyn just after finding herself traveling to and throughout Africa to experience the continent's diverse culture. Keeping with the spirit of sustaining African artisanal jobs, she set a goal of introducing the rest of the world to her favorite traditional African footwear, while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within Africa. Handmade in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco, Brother Vellies creates boots, shoes and sandals in styles that maintain the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts.
Brands like ENZI tell a story of pride with a dash of personal taste. Based out of Ethiopia, long-time friends Sam Imende, Azariah Mengistu, Jawad Braye and Christian Ward created the high-end footwear brand to hold that notion to heart. Established under a commitment to providing exceptional production, design and materials, ENZI maintains their social and environmental responsibility through sourcing materials and employing craftsmen within the continent of Africa.
From a tiny workshop, to the feet of the world, ENZI set out to change the perception of Africa through the production of high quality, well-crafted footwear.
Founded in 2013, TawiaDesigns is a Ghanaian-American shoe brand based in Chicago that provides comfortable handmade footwear ranging from sandals, boots, lace-ups, shoes, and custom sneakers. Their philosophy is to create unique comfortable shoes that satisfy customers on all levels. Handcrafted in Kenya, Ghana, and Morocco, TawiaDesigns creates a variety of footwear styles that represent the rich African culture, while creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within Africa.
A sustainable textile designer based in London, Sindiso Khumalo founded her label with a focus on creating modern sustainable textiles with a strong emphasis on African story telling. She designs textiles in her collections by hand through watercolors and collage with sustainability, craft and empowerment lying at the heart of her label.
Created by supermodel Liya Kebede, lemlem was inspired by a trip to her native land of Ethiopia where she met a group of traditional weavers who no longer had a market for their craft. lemlem is an artisan-driven collection of women’s, men’s, children’s and home goods made entirely in Africa that elevate artisanship, production and jobs across Africa.
Inspired by the beauty of African shapes, textures, and traditional techniques, Nigerian-born designer, Adele Dejak, ignites a revolutionary art form with her designs. Experimenting with natural horn, African-made fabrics, recycled materials, and operating out of Nairobi, Kenya, the designer unites sustainability, craftsmanship and ethical practices.