Support WOC Designers
The ethical and sustainable fashion industry, like most of the fashion industry, has had a history of being exclusive and often uninviting to people of color. As a Black woman, I find that the sisterhood I experience with other Black women and women of color is a type of camaraderie that is necessary for bringing more women who look like me into the space. It was a good friend of mine, Jazmine Brown, who taught me a lot about ethical fashion and sustainability, just two short years ago. Jazmine’s open hand inviting me into a community that I might have otherwise brushed off due to it’s overwhelmingly white demographic made me feel more comfortable stepping into this lifestyle.
It is for this reason that it is so important for me to support ethical and sustainable fashion brands founded by women of color. WOC makers and designers bring unique perspectives and elements to a space that is in desperate need of fresh new voices and ideas in order to make the largest impact possible. It is also incredibly important for me, as a WOC, to support other WOC with my dollars, so that their small businesses can continue to thrive and they can sustain themselves.
Here, I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite ethical and sustainable fashion brands founded by women of color. While this is just a short list, many folks in the ethical fashion space are making it a point to elevate POC makers and designers. Buy From BIPOC is a community that just launched on Instagram, which is entirely dedicated to showcasing the work of BIPOC in slow, ethical and sustainable fashion. Be sure to follow them and keep an eye on all the incredible makers they are elevating.
Ethics | Ethical production process, fabrics made from recycled plastic bottles
Best For | Inclusive nude lingerie
Proclaim is an inclusive lingerie line, expanding the definition of “nude,” one ethically-made bra at a time. The founder, Shobha Philips, started Proclaim because she was incredibly tired of never being able to find a “nude” that matched her brown skin tone. Perhaps more incredible than Proclaim’s unique, cut-out bra designs is the super soft fabric, which is made from 100% post-consumer plastic water bottles. You’ll definitely want to keep Proclaim on your radar for more inclusive design releases in the future.
Ethics | Ethical production process, organic cotton
Best For | Ethically-made streetwear
Most Prominent Co. is a responsible clothing brand bringing streetwear into the ethical fashion space. Founded by two college students, Avery Antonio and Mayra Moran, MPCo seeks to improve garment labor working conditions through storytelling, educating and advocating. MPCo makes bold statements about the fashion industry through their clothing as well as their service projects, art exhibitions and various media outlets. Keep an eye out on their website for their small batch releases, many of which donate a portion of the proceeds towards various causes.
Ethics | Vintage
Best For | Vintage statement pieces
Subrina Heyink is an online vintage shop full of enviable pieces that look like they were hand-picked straight out of a 90s rom-com. Subrina’s eye for timeless statement pieces is absolutely incredible. Not to mention the shop’s dreamy Instagram page, which is full of Pinterest-worthy imagery. If you’re looking for a good vintage piece to spice up your wardrobe a bit, definitely check out Subrina’s selection.
Ethics | Textiles sourced in South America and handmade in Los Angeles
Best For | Ethnic and gender-inclusive handmade collections
Wasi Clothing is a one-woman business founded by Bolivian-American designer, Vanessa Acosta. Vanessa aims to put Bolivian culture in the spotlight and create clothing that inclusive of all sizes, ethnicities, skin tones and genders. While I was initially intrigued by Wasi’s statement T-shirts with sayings like “For Women of Color” and “Hija De Immigrantes” printed on them, I was amazed also by their handmade sets. I am excited to see all the ways Wasi Clothing grows, bringing Bolivian culture to the mainstream in the future.
Ethics | Low impact clothing
Best For | Laid back basics
Back Beat Rags has effortlessly-cool-California girl written all over it. What started out as a vintage T-shirt shop turned into a sustainable fashion brand taking cues from California surf and skate culture. The founder Isadora Alvarez’s goal is to use fabrics with a lower impact on the environment, while maintaining that “cool” factor that California girls are so well known for. What I love most about Back Beat Rags is how accessible all of the pieces feel. Their clothes are straightforward, clean and easy to wear, without being boring. If you’re looking to add some California cool to your wardrobe, be sure to check them out.
Ethics | Ethical production, 100% recycled/recyclable packaging
Best for | Earrings
WKNDLA is a sustainable jewelry brand making “wearable art” in Los Angeles. The brand is a one-woman-show operated by Cindy Hsu Zell, who draws upon natural and everyday moments as inspiration for her pieces. Her jewelry is 14k gold-filled and sterling silver certified nickel-free, making them perfect for sensitive ears. What I love most about WKNDLA is the incredibly unique designs that can easily be integrated into everyday wear. Take a look at WKNDLA’s website and snag a pair of your own wearable art.
Ethics | Made in Los Angeles, made to order
Best for | Statement pieces, made to order
House of Aama is a culturally-inspired lifestyle brand founded by mother-daughter duo, Rebecca Henry and Akua Shabaka. Their pieces are made to order, many with 100% organic cotton in Los Angeles. House of Aama is heavily rooted in the ethos of the African continent and diaspora. Their designs are inspired by the Postbellum Southern United States, a critical period for Black culture. To summarize the entire mission of House of Aama would not do the beauty of it any justice. However, you can read about Rebecca and Akua’s story here and check out their incredible collections while you’re at it!
8. Selva Negra
Ethics | Sustainably-made
Best For | Not-your-average neutrals
Selva Negra is a Los Angeles-based brand combining a tomboy feel with bold feminine identity into their classic pieces. Founded by designers Kristen Gonzalez and Sam Romero, the brand is influenced by their Latina heritage, resulting in beautifully and sustainably-made soulful designs. Selva Negra’s stunning jumpsuits and two piece sets bring an exciting twist to some very calming and neutral colors. Many of these pieces can be dressed up or down, making them perfect for anyone looking to add some quality pieces to their wardrobe.
What are some of your favorite ethical and sustainable brands owned by WOC? Let us know in the comments! 💛