Recognizing Black Queer-Owned Conscious Fashion Brands
For the entire month of June, Huaywasi has muted all original content and promotions in order to shine the spotlight on organizations and resources important in creating change. We are focusing our platform on other informational and supplemental sources where you can learn more as an ally and/or donate to organizations leading the movement towards a United States without racism, oppression, and hate.
To conclude June being Pride Month, we will be focusing our content on the Black LGBTQ+ community that is continuing to make strides for a more free and equal society. We will highlight educators, artists, organizations, and brands that are specifically helping to empower those in the LGBTQ+ community and are constantly fighting for the much needed change. Enough is enough. We need to take action now.
Sarah Kate Ellis, president of GLAAD, a LGBTQ+ advocacy group, told Good Morning America, “It is all of our responsibility to speak out publicly against racism, systemic injustice, and police brutality, and to elevate voices and amplify stories of people of color, especially within the LGBTQ+ community.”
Brooklyn based fashion blogger, Doreen Pierre, said in a statement, “We would not have a Pride Month, the modern gay rights movement or the Black Lives Matter movement without the labor of the Black queer community.” Black queer people have consistently put their lives on the line for social change while they are misrepresented, underrepresented, and underserved across all ways of life.
The National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) houses a registry of LGBTQ+ businesses, and according to their 2016 report, only 4.3% of LGBTQ+ businesses were owned by African Americans. Furthermore, only 2% of these businesses registered were owned by transgender buisness owners. This is not a coincidence. According to the National LGBTQ Task Force, transgender people are four times more likely than the general population to make less than $10,000 per year.
Time and time again we can see clear indicators that prove an individual’s ability to thrive can be directly related to the disparities in our society created by racism, homophobia, and transphobia. Despite all odds against them, black queer businesses do exist and they need your support more than ever. As an ethical fashion brand, we have decided to share 5 black queer owned conscious fashion brands that you can support.
1. STUZO CLOTHING - Started in 2010 by Stoney Michelli and Uzo Ejikeme, their mission is to create a space in the fashion world where all are welcome without judgement. Stuzo Clothing is a gender free clothing company designed to invoke thought and emotion. “We are inspired by love, people, and life. Whatever shape or form you choose to exist in, we celebrate that!”
Even better, the co-founders ensure that their mission is to give back to the community and are inclusive in their hiring practices. In a Huffpost interview they said, “We directly work with the LGBTQIA center’s youth here in Los Angeles by employing them - 95% of people we work with and hire are from our communities and are mostly Black, queer and non-binary.”
2. NICOLE ZIZI - Nicole Zizi is a multi-dimensional artist and designer who attributes her Haitian descent to be a significant aspect expressed in her artwork. “This sense of culture stems from a deep sensibility to craftsmanship, textiles, and community that is common practice within the Haitian community.”
Nicole Zizi Studio is a brand that is focused on eco-conscious, sustainability, and innovation in gender free premium streetwear and accessories. By sourcing recycled, alternative, and natural materials, Zizi is able to develop new products that push towards the elimination of environmental pollution. “As a nod to circularity, I aim to protect our communities while simultaneously I am always keeping in mind the way each design affects our environment as a whole.”
3. MAKOMA - Makoma, which means, “my heart,” is an ethically made brand that is a lifestyle designed from African diaspora. “The goal is to create one-of-a-kind, contemporary designs using a combination of African prints and classic silhouettes.” Their products are made with the highest-quality craftsmanship and authentic styles that can only be found at their website and monthly pop-up shops.
4. STYLE IS FREEDOM - Toni Branson created this brand in 2008 with the purpose of liberating and celebrating the Tomboi culture through fashion. “Toni was determined to create a safe space in fashion for the masculine identifying woman to exist. She wanted Style is Freedom to be the face of the Tomboi culture and create a liberating message for the genderless fashion movement.”
Style is Freedom manufactures premium streetwear garments and all of their garments are made from premium fabrics. They now even offer embroidery services!
5. Show & Tell - The Concept Shop, founded in 2011 by Alyah, is a platform for unique, vibrant, inclusive styles that promote Bold Beauty and Joyful Living. “Our carefully curated assortment features our handmade Show & Tell Collection alongside an evolving selection of ethical and sustainable goods from like-minded brands.” They believe in socially responsible practices, authentic self-expression, and radical acceptance and celebration of people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, women, and other marginalized communities.
There are so many more brands and organizations making strides in the Black LGBTQ+ fashion community but these 5 conscious brands are a great place to start.
Erica Lovett, Inclusion & Community Manager at Condé Nast, stated perfectly in an Insider/Outsider article “Inclusion & Diversity in the American Fashion Industry”,
“It’s exciting to see more racial and ethnic representation highlighted through these mediums, but visibility alone is not the solution to advancing diversity and inclusion in fashion. The industry must recognize and prioritize efforts to support greater diversity on the business side: the financiers, the chief executives, the heads of fashion houses, the senior level magazine editors, and business leaders. There is a lack of opportunity and access for people of underrepresented backgrounds in the fashion industry. It’s a systemic issue tied to the homogeneity of industry leadership. Until fashion leaders across all categories become more diverse, we will continue to only progress at the surface level.”
We here at Huaywasi couldn't agree more to that statement. We need real systemic change across all industries to truly see real results and opportunities. We recognize that there is still so much more work that needs to be done to create a more diverse and inclusive fashion industry. This means confronting difficult conversations and becoming aware of historical and societal injustices that need to be addressed head on.
Please consider checking out our blog post “Racism in the Fashion Industry: How to be Part of the Change,” where we discuss the fashion industry’s deep rooted relationship with racism, organizations that are striving to make differences, petitions you can sign, and black-owned conscious fashion brands that you can support.
No industry, brand, or individual can do this much needed work alone, but we can all work together to create a more just and equal world for all.