We at Qwear always look forward to Black Herstory Month. For this 28 day period, we pay tribute to the history of people of African descent by honoring Black Excellence in a nation that has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of regard for Black lives.
Now more than ever we must remember that America was built on the forced labor of Black bodies who were torn from their homes and separated from their families (as well as the genocide of the Native American people, who also need our continued attention and support as their land continues to be taken from them.)
In a country based on the values of white supremacy, Black lives in America are at an increased risk. Killed on the streets, thrown in prison, and put in schools with very few educational resources, our Black citizens are working three times as hard to secure work in a heavily racist environment. With the recent election of Trump as president, who believes that "order" to America means whiteness, who is targeting individuals who practice Islam, who is banning individuals from entering the US from the very same countries that we tore them from as recent as 155 years ago in the slave trade, we must now more than ever invest in our citizens of color.
It is for these reasons and so many more that I present to you some of our favorite queer friendly Black owned fashion brands. Buying from these brands is one important thing you can do for the resistance — by supporting the hard work and creative input of one of the most targeted groups in America and across the globe, we can put our money towards the people who truly will make this nation great.
*The following note is for non-Black folks interested in purchasing from these brands:*
Many of these brands feature African prints and symbols, and as well as symbols from Black Power Movements such as the raised fist. If you are a non-Black individual buying products that specifically celebrate Black culture (in particular if you are white) to please be cognizant of the way in which you wear it so as to be respectful of the culture which created these styles. Wearing symbolism of Black culture on non-Black bodies requires the continued awareness of privilege and the insistence to change a system that is rigged against Black bodies and people of color.
Rita Bunatal, Founder and Creative Director of Malaika Apparel Co. states: “While these symbols and prints are for the celebration and empowerment of Black bodies, it is important for non-Black folks to understand what they are wearing, and what it means when they wear it. They should also be ready to fight for Black lives if they are going to actively participate in celebrating Black culture & wearing pro-Black symbols. With my website, I ensure to give a history of the design and ask folks to tick a box stating that they understand the meaning of the design. It helps to ensure that folks are actively engaging with history and learning even while they shop.”
As a final note, there are a few products that specifically cater to Black individuals (such as the “very Black" or “Black Royalty” products). These are of course only intended to be worn by individuals who are themselves Black.
Malaika Apparel Co, created by Rita Bunatal, reignites the flame of Pan-Africanism, the ideology that all Black people are connected through the diaspora, through designs that symbolize Black power and African prints.
Black History Month 25% Off Sale: Enter Code BHM25
Trans* Is Beautiful was created by Devin Norelle to celebrates trans bodies and to support Werk Those Pecs, a transgender surgery fund:
Founded in 2009 by Paul Van Haver, Mosaert is a unisex line which combines African prints with American prep:
Inspired by color, shapes, and African/ethnic prints, NAKIMULI embraces a love of self at any size, inspires sisterhood, individuality, comfort, and fierceness.
The Brooklyn Circus/BKc is a menswear brand inspired by classic American prep that aims to tell the story of style throughout American history and to emphasize the power of presentation.
8. Very Black
Though a simple white tee-shirt with bold raised lettering, the very Black Project proudly celebrates lived Black experiences and the global African diaspora.
Created by Nnenna Stella in Brooklyn, New York, The Wrap Life cultivates a life abundant with color, texture, and handmade goods through gorgeous head wraps, accessories, and handmade lifestyle items.
We will feature more brands soon! If there are any you wish to see featured, please let us know in the comments below.
As Qwear's Founding Editor, Sonny’s work centers around envisioning a future in which the clothing people wear does not dictate their chances of survival. Sonny was awarded 2015 dapperQ of the Year and was the first trans blogger to be sponsored by Topman. In March 2016, Sonny spoke at South by South West's first official queer fashion panel.