The murder of George Floyd, the latest in a history of police brutality against black people, has spurred outrage, protests and a long-overdue reckoning of the racial inequities in the United States and around the world. The issues are complex and many, but one thing has become abundantly clear: there is much work to be done to combat racism. We have some suggestions on organizations you can donate to and resources for better understanding the nuances of the situation. There are numerous ways to support anti-racism efforts and one of them is by flexing your spending power and buying black.
Not only has coronavirus disproportionately struck minority communities but, according to The Washington Post, the pandemic has caused 40 percent of black-owned businesses to close permanently, almost double the number of white-owned businesses that have met the same fate. Access to financing has historically been more difficult for people of color, which is one of the reasons why Aurora James, the designer of award-winning accessories line Brother Vellies, started a petition for retailers to devote 15 percent of their shelf space to black-owned businesses (to reflect the fact that black people make up 15 percent of the American population). It’s a smart idea that we look forward to seeing implemented but, in the meantime, there are plenty of black businesses that you can support directly.
Here are 23 of our favorite black designers, brands and stores to shop now and—more importantly—always.
The Harlem-based bespoke tailor has been a go-to clothier for the entertainment industry’s boldface names, athletes and private clients of all stripes since the 1990s. Its name reflects that its clothing, marked by clean lines and adventurous use of color, is as unique as its clients.
London-based Samuel Ross, a protégé of Virgil Abloh, started his own brand in 2015 and is known for applying a tailor’s rigor and a graphic designer’s eye to streetwear. The result is decidedly futuristic, and people love his screenprinting, but the man can do things to knitwear that few other designers have the skills or vision to achieve.
London native Adrien Sauvage specializes in minimalist tailoring, both bespoke and made-to-measure, that oozes sophistication. In addition to his timelessly elegant suits, Sauvage also offers intricately-crafted regalia (literally, the kind of bullion-embroidered finery royals wear for formal events) if you want to truly be kitted out like a king.
British West Indian designer Bianca Saunders is a rising star of the London menswear scene. She combines sharp tailoring with fluid draping and oversized proportions to create strikingly fresh versions of old classics, like sleek trench coats and diaphanous track pants.
Rushemy Botter and Lisi Herrebrugh, two Paris-based Caribbeans who co-design the womenswear label Nina Ricci, have referred to their menswear collections as a sort of diary. On its pages, you’ll find a blend of forward-thinking, generous tailoring and streetwear that comments on being immigrants in Europe.
Brett Johnson’s studious mix of sportswear and suiting is borne of a love for Italian craftsmanship—and the timeless classics he creates are unabashedly luxe. Think vicuña sweaters, double-faced cashmere outerwear and the kind of feather-light suits that are normally only produced in bespoke ateliers.
Joe Casely-Hayford was a force in British menswear, from his early days dressing the likes of U2 and The Clash to his tenure at the helm of Gieves & Hawkes. While Joe passed away last year, his son, Charlie Casely-Hayford, continues to turn out slyly irreverent takes on Savile Row tailoring at the brand they launched together.
Terry Castro crafts jewels that are both fantastical and rugged, like gem-studded lock pendants that look as if they’ve been excavated from buried treasure. Even when working with diamonds, Castro’s designs have a hand-hewn earthiness that keeps everything free from flash.
With a résumé that includes stints at a steel mill, as a railroad engineer and at General Motors, designer Darryl Brown is intimately acquainted with real deal workwear. Now, he creates more refined iterations of those utilitarian wares, like trim cargo pants and streamlined blousons.
Fear of God
This LA-based brand, founded in 2013 by designer Jerry Lorenzo, was a pioneer in bridging the gap between streetwear and luxury. His minimalist renderings of everything from silk-lined bomber jackets to corduroy blazers to suede Chelsea boots telegraph a quieter kind of swagger. Upping the luxe factor even further, Fear of God recently collaborated with Ermenegildo Zegna for a collection that’s dropping this September.
Before creating his eponymous menswear label, Davidson Petit-Frere held stints as the co-founder of a successful tailoring house and as a made-to-measure specialist at Tom Ford. That experience informs his colorful and flattering approach to the suits he sends down the runway.
At the core of Heron Preston’s eponymous label is a mission to find sustainable solutions for the fashion industry. But his work is far from granola: his workwear-meets-streetwear design ethos has produced collaborations with Carhartt WIP, HP, NASA and New York City’s Department of Sanitation.
Jamaican-British designer Martine Rose launched in 2007 with a collection of shirts that quickly developed a cult following. Drawing on motifs from traditional menswear, utility garb and streetwear, she imbues the humblest basics, like button-ups and trucker jackets, with a deeply cool attitude.
Whitney Michel cut her teeth styling menswear for Vogue, GQ and several other marquee glossies. That experience led her to launching her own collection of dapper men’s accessories like cashmere ties and hand-printed bandanas. Right now, she’s also offering face masks and donating 20% of profits to Dream Defenders, an organization that works to fight police brutality and support those who are wrongfully incarcerated.
The only person of color with a firm on Savile Row, Ghanaian-British designer Ozwald Boateng rose to fame with immaculately-cut suits and a flair for bold color. Offering bespoke, made-to-measure and ready-to-wear options, Boateng is a favorite of modern day dandies.
After an enviable career designing for the likes of Giorgio Armani and Perry Ellis and serving as Gap’s executive VP of design, Patrick Robinson decided to focus on creating more sustainable, practical fashion. The result is Paskho, a line of performance-minded basics made from environmentally-friendly fabrics—the kind of polished casual wear that’s ideal for life in lockdown.
Designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow won numerous awards for their razor-sharp vision of menswear: a very New York City combination of tailored outerwear, slouchy knits and tapered trousers in a stark palette of black and white. In recent years, they’ve skewed more toward the streetwear end of the spectrum and worked in a few more colors, but the clothes are still as cool as ever.
It wasn’t long after Kerby Jean Raymond founded Pyer Moss, in 2013, that he started winning awards for its statement-making designs. While his work has become more experimental in the years since, telling black stories has always been a key component. His current collection is an homage to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the godmother of rock ‘n roll and a key influence on Elvis Presley.
For a self-taught designer whose business is only two years old, LA-based Rich Fresh has quickly established a recognizable aesthetic. His bold, bright bespoke tailoring has made repeat clients of a wide swath of celebrities, from Dwyane Wade to John Legend.
Liberian-American designer Telfar Clemens promotes a utopian vision of fashion with modernist riffs on unisex wardrobe staples, such as his streamlined leather shopping bag that’s been dubbed the “Bushwick Birkin” for its popularity among stylish Brooklynites.
Ten Thousand Things
New York-based jewelers Ron Anderson and David Rees’ sculptural, handmade designs have made them a favorite of the downtown set for over 25 years. Their understated Chicklet necklaces and freeform gold rings are ideally suited to guys.
Chris Gibbs and Beth Birkett, the couple behind the LA retailer Union have their finger on the pulse of what’s next in menswear; their store has been a key player in blurring the line between luxury and streetwear. On its racks, and online, they mix Heron Preston, A-Cold-Wall* and other emerging brands with Thom Browne, Marni and Comme des Garcons.
London-based Grace Wales Bonner has emerged as one of the most exciting new voices in menswear today. Her collections blending traditional tailoring with softer, nostalgic touches—crochet-trimmed trousers, embroidered over-shirts—are as artful as they are wearable.