George Floyd was murdered one year ago. A police officer has been found guilty of all charges. He knelt down on George Floyd’s neck and denied him air. Accountability is a sign of hope in the fight against violence against Blacks in America and People of Colour. However, daily reports on new cases of violence by police officers show that there’s still much to be done – both sides of the Atlantic.
Black Lives Matter has brought attention to the injustices of black people and POC. Equality in the fashion industry is one of these causes. The 15 percent-Pledge, for example, requires multibrand retailers to order and carry at least 15% (representing the percentage of the Black population living in the US) of labels and brands owned by Black people or other people of color. How about your shop? We offer a selection of black-owned labels that you can order now.
Ashes and Soil in Germany
Martina Offeh founded the fashion label Ashes and Soil in 2019. She co-creates “cool pieces with a cool background” with Musa Simone, a designer from Hamburg. The Hamburg-based designer, who is West African-American, has made it her mission to raise awareness about global and socio-political issues through her fashion. Her latest collection, “Introspection”, tells the stories of people who have been stigmatized because they have mental illness. Jackets in the collection feature stories from those who have been affected by mental illness. Martina Offeh visited them personally through QR codes which lead to testimonials on Martina Offeh’s homepage. “In the collection we reflect the stories and experiences of eight mentally ill people and their rejections. The collection is dedicated to them,” the designer said. “We believe fashion can enrich our understanding of storytelling and our approach to it. We want to tell the stories of those who are marginalised and to make their voices heard through each collection. We hope to create a new narrative to change how society interacts with one another. This is done by first looking at the world of people who are unfamiliar to us.”
Stockists: The Wearness, Not Just a Label
Target audience: Mostly women between 25 and 40, fashion-savvy, active, travelled, metropolitan.
Core markets: So far, DE as well as NL and UK.
Retail price points: Leather jackets range from 650 to 1150 Euros to wool coats between 450 and 900 Euros. Jackets start at 650 Euros. T-shirts start at 49 Euros. Hoodies cost 60-75 Euros. Shirts start at 89 Euros. There will be more items this year.
Beautiful Struggles (Germany/USA)
Beautiful Struggles is a premium label that focuses on streetwear of the highest quality. Danny Williams founded the label in Germany in 2019. It combines both America and Europe.
Professional footballers consider Danny Williams the style icon. He was born in Germany to an American father and German mother. After his childhood, he found his way into professional football leagues. He started his journey in Karlsruhe, via Freiburg and Hoenheim. From there he moved to England to FC Reading and Huddersfield before finally reaching the US national football team.
The designer says that Beautiful Struggles is about facing challenges and changing your outlook, while overcoming them. He has faced many challenges due to his parents’ differences. He learned to work harder to prove his worth. He learned that power is found in failure and difficult times. Motivation, new and beautiful things that can be found through a shift of perspective. Beautiful struggles are another way to put it.
Drop 3 is the current collection. It was inspired by Cape Town, the contrasting vibes that it has and the natural beauty around it. Modern, sporty and cool statement pieces combine timeless pieces with modern, stylish pieces.
Stockists: Beautiful Struggles currently is only available online.
Target group: Unisex, 20-45 years old, quality-conscious and trend-oriented.
Retail Price Points: Shirts and trousers between 260 and 300 Euros, while pants are around 300 Euros. Hoodies can be purchased for around 300, while overshirts cost 300 to 500 euros.
Akuko (Nigeria/ Sweden)
Arinze Emegoakor founded Akuko in 2019. Akuko, a vibrant and sustainable brand with “roots” in Nigeria and “feet in Sweden,” is an African story-telling brand. In Igbo, Akuko is translated as “story”. Every product has a story. These stories help to change negative stereotypes and create positive narratives about Africa and Africans.
The label’s colourful and boldly patterned socks are just a few of the many products they currently have. Underwear for all genders is planned. Akuko has a wide range of high-quality products that are trendy, fashionable and conversation starters. They are made sustainably from the finest bamboo fabric.
Target group: Generation Z and Millenials, who choose where their money goes. Or anyone who believes in equality. Both the socks and underwear are available for children and adults.
Retail Price Points: A pair of socks will cost you 10 Euros.
Contact Beatrace Oola, sales agency in Germany: APYA Productions
IAMISIGO (Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana)
Bubu Ogisi is the founder of Iamisigo, a wearable art brand that is based in Lagos, Nairobi, and Accra. Naomi Campbell, a supermodel, wore her label. It focuses on how fashion and textiles can preserve history and pass on information to the future. She uses clothing as a communication tool, using the human body as her ultimate canvas.
“We create wearable art using unconventional materials and ancestral textile tradition through in-depth research in remote African communities in different areas of the African continent,” said the artist. His works were exhibited at the Brighton Museum and the Troppen Museum in Amsterdam, as well as the Kunstgewerbemuseum Berlin.
The label’s purpose is to “remove borders and combine different ideas”. She considers herself an “agent for change” and fashion is a silent protest against postcolonialism. The label is 100% handmade, and emphasizes age-old techniques, while also incorporating new fibers and upcycling techniques.
Stockists: Showrooms in Lagos, Nigeria and Nairobi, Kenya. Afrodor in Zurich and Noborders Shop Mumbai & Paris are available, as well as Atelier Meraki in Paris and Studio 189 in New York.
Retail price points: T-shirts around 150 Euros, hand-woven trousers around 400 Euros, dresses around 800 Euros.