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clothing

4 mins read

10 Black Designers at New York Fashion Week 2022

New York Fashion Week kicked off on Friday, Sept. 9th. The September shows are always eagerly anticipated, and after several virtual and hybrid seasons, the New York calendar is more packed than it has been in a while, with designers eager to showcase their best work and the city aiming to reclaim its position as a leader in the global fashion industry.

Reportedly, Black designers make up more than twenty-five percent of the runway shows at this year’s New York Fashion Week.

Meet some of them below.

Black Designers at NYFW 2022

June79

June79 is the new standard of menswear, reframing and redefining the new standard of luxury, existing between the fine balance of work performance and luxury leisure. June79 is founded on the premise of the new luxury renaissance, from quality and craftsmanship to mentality and style.

black designers

Junny

JUNNY is a former ESPN sales executive who discovered her passion for designing after getting downsized from her position 6 years ago. Her collections are bold, creatively exuberant, and size-inclusive, drawing on the vibrancy of her Harlem and Jamaican cultural roots. Her collections have often been described as “wearable art.”

Ashya

ASHYA’s (pronounced “agh-shya”) vision is rooted in travel, cultural awareness, and unifying style and utility. Ashley Cimone and Moya Annece developed the brand as an “ode to exploration.” They design for simple movement and essentialism, inspired by worldwide Black, Brown, and Indigenous populations and transient modern existence.

Kimberly Goldson

Kimberly Goldson is a Brooklyn-based, sister-crafted, luxury-driven contemporary womenswear brand centered around women’s suiting.

black designers

Black Boy Knits

Black Boy Knits (BBK) is an independent design studio that emphasizes Black, queer and immigrant narratives while highlighting its contributions on a global perspective. As a design studio, BBK centers on creating unique pieces on a made-to-order basis.

Marrisa Wilson

MARRISA WILSON is built around the philosophy that all women should be able to effortlessly express their unique personalities. With a focus on quality and functionality, and a colorful, optimistic aesthetic, the brand is an extension of founder and creative director Marrisa Wilson’s personal belief that high-end fashion can still be attainable and inclusive.

black designers

Studio One Eighty Nine

Studio One Eighty Nine is an artisan-focused brand based in Ghana and the United States. All Studio 189 clothing is produced in Africa in craftsmen communities that specialize in traditional textile techniques, such as hand-printing batik patterns and using plant-based dyes.

Todd Patrick

Todd Patrick is a luxury menswear brand that focuses on how the past shapes the future. The brand has carved out a niche lane for the mid-century modern man of today’s time. Each piece translates fabric to conversation.

Connor McKnight

Connor McKnight is a luxury fashion brand based in Brooklyn, NY established during the pandemic. With this collection, he explored his relationship to this practice of daily work, emphasizing craft and utility with refined timeless silhouettes to be worn for a lifetime. All designs are suggestions of ideas that we see in everyday life adjusted to create an abnormality.

Victor Glemaud

Haitian-American designer Victor Glemaud launched his eponymous designer collection of statement knitwear, designed for all people, genders, races, sizes, and personalities, marrying comfort and style.

-Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

Tradeblock, a Black Owned Sneaker Trading Platform Just Raised $9 Million

Tradeblock, a Black owned sneaker trading platform has raised over $8.9 Million dollars in funding from investment partners Courtside VC, Trinity Ventures, and Concrete Rose Capital.

From its humble beginnings in 2020, with just 300 users and just under 5000 shoes, Tradeblock has experienced exponential growth in its 2 years of operation, amassing more than 1 Million shoes listed in users’ virtual closets this year.

The monumental growth of the online marketplace can be attributed to the platform’s unique consumer experience that was key in the vision of making Tradeblock a reality.

Co-Founder and CEO Mbiyimoh Ghogomu, along with Co-Founders Darren Smith and Tony Malveaux, sought out to bridge the gap for passionate collectors who were losing the battle against bots on sneaker drops and those who cannot afford rapidly increasing resale prices; increases that are largely driven by resellers cornering the market on popular shoes for the sole purpose of profits.

Tradeblock will use the proceeds from the financing round to help further invest in growth in its sneaker business as well as expanding and improving its one-of-a-kind authentication and logistics operation, which involves inspecting and authenticating shoes from both sides of the trade simultaneously in a complex and highly-interconnected process.

Additionally, Tradeblock will be investing in more data science capabilities to enhance the customer experience as it continues to define the virtual bartering experience by developing the marketplace further.

The funding raised within this round brings Tradeblock closer to its north star of providing accessibility in the resale market for those who should not let high and unjust prices define the attainability of their dreams and culture and also of ensuring that the marketplace offers the best in class services for its members.

Tradeblock is also driven by a deep passion for building a company that actually resembles the people it serves. “Black and brown communities have always been the backbone of the sneaker industry and sneaker culture,” says Co-Founder and CEO Mbiyimoh Ghogomu. “Showing those folks that they can be the owners and operators of this industry as opposed to just consumers is both a point of pride and a deeply rooted responsibility for everybody at Tradeblock.”

The Tradeblock team embodies this sentiment of representation within their workforce: besides having three Black founders, Tradeblock’s workforce is more than 80% BIPOC, and the senior leadership team is over 75% BIPOC.

Tradeblock | Secure Sneaker Trades

The marketplace is set for a rolling close to end their Seed II round and is expecting an additional $4.5 Million in investment by the end of it. Tradeblock aims to redefine the basis of sneaker culture by focusing on their pillars of community, accessibility and sustainability.

The mission and vision resonate with the public and trumpet the goal of leveling the playing field for the BIPOC community who has played a tremendous role within the culture that is the foundation of the sneaker industry.

“Tradeblock is revolutionizing the way forward for the new emergent asset class of footwear. The founding team’s understanding of the nuances of culture and tech gives them an unfair advantage in the industry and the team’s desire to lead with inclusion, representation, and authenticity also provides them with unique and meaningful organic engagement,” says Tradeblock angel investor Jason Mayden, a former Nike and Jordan footwear designer who now serves as President of Fear of God Athletics.

The marketplace’s continual growth goes to show the long lasting impact it will have within the sneaker industry for years to come.

Tony O. Lawson

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3 mins read

Black-Owned Jewelry Brands to Add To Your Collection in 2022

As anyone who loves fashion knows, jewelry is the perfect way to add a little personality to any outfit. Whether you prefer dainty or bold statement pieces, there is a jewelry brand that suits your style.

These Black-owned jewelry brands are a great way to add some unique and stylish pieces to your collection. Whether you’re looking for something flashy or understated, there’s a brand with precisely what you need.

So go ahead and add one (or all!) of these fantastic brands to your list, and enjoy the added confidence and beauty that their jewelry provides.

Black-Owned Jewelry Brands

Afro Deco

Handmade pieces by British jewelry designer and visual artist Natasha Lisa. Operating under the name Afro Deco, Natasha channels the stylistic influences of Art Deco and the vibrant patterns of African fabric in her diverse range of afrofuturist-themed Lucite designs.

 

YAM

Yam is a made to order, handmade jewelry brand based in Queens, NY. The brand is dedicated to creating new, yet nostalgic pieces through up-cycled materials and vintage silhouettes. Designs incorporate classic and industrial hardware elements, complimented with cheeky and charming nature motifs and pearl accents.

Jooel

Black owned jewelry brands

Jooel was born out of a desire to curate timeless luxury jewelry pieces for every wardrobe. With a careful blend of trendy and classic pieces, Jooel offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a bling queen or prefer understated lux, Jooel has something for you.

Leliamae

black owned jewelry

Leliamae is a New York-based, woman-run jewelry brand that strives to balance integrity and unique style. The artist behind the brand, Lelia, sources quality gold materials that are ethically produced and made to elevate your everyday collection.

HOME by Areeayl

black owned jewelry brands

Each Beads Byaree piece is created with a focus on quality and attention to detail. The results are beautiful, one-of-a-kind pieces that are sure to make a statement. Whether you’re looking for a unique gift or a treat for yourself, Beads Byaree has something for everyone.

Third Crown

The husband-and-wife team behind Third Crown aims to celebrate the merging of two forces coming together to form something new – a powerful pair. They fuse their love of geometric shapes with the details found in their architectural surroundings to create their collection of men’s and women’s jewelry.

ALMASIKA

black owned jewelry brands

ALMASIKA makes fine jewelry that tells stories across generations and cultures. The sculptural designs are handcrafted using precious metals and shimmering gems. Pieces include the debut ‘Le Cauri Endiamante’ collection – inspired by the rich history and symbolism of cowrie shells – as well as newer styles from the ‘Sagesse’ range, which explores ancient motifs associated with traditional wisdom.

 

-Tony O. Lawson

 


5 mins read

Black Owned Abroad: Shaneka runs an E-Boutique in Japan

Shaneka Willingham is the owner of Little Mavericks, an e-boutique based in Tokyo, Japan. When she’s not creating bodysuit collections, she teaches military-connected students at Yokota Air Base.

We caught up with her to learn more about her business and life abroad.

Black owned japan
Photo credit: Maryella Photography

When and why did you move to Japan? 

I moved to Japan in October 2015 while grieving the loss of my mother and accepting a teaching position serving military-connected students. Best move ever!

What inspired you to start your business?

Beyond a passion for teaching, I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit since attending an Entrepreneurship Bootcamp in 6th grade. Back then, I sold body creams and soap. Years later, after collaborating with and photographing events for a dear friend with a successful Black-owned cotton candy business, Sugar Shack Tokyo, I was motivated to start my own.

So, I planned for nine months and with the support of friends and other black entrepreneurs in the heart of Tokyo, including owners of Soul Food House and Abundant Hearts Speak, I launched my e-boutique on my late mother’s birthday, January 28, 2020. My business is dedicated to my mother’s memory, how she dressed me in tailored-made garments, swooped my bangs, and called me her Little Lady.

Photo credit: Maryella Photography

What is the most challenging part of being an entrepreneur?

The most challenging part of being an entrepreneur is having BIG million-dollar ideas and not enough funding to make them happen just YET (Growth Mindset!). Currently, my business is self-funded as I continue to learn other means to gain capital.

What is the most fulfilling part of being an entrepreneur?

The most fulfilling part of being an entrepreneur is the creative outlet and the love I’ve received from the community I continue to build through Little Mavericks. I am detail-oriented and LOVE, LOVE, LOVE creating and curating various products that are stylish, fun, and affordable.

My bestseller is my Express Yo’self Bodysuits which feature expressions of black culture and self-love. I do a little jig when customers express how much they love not only the bodysuits and their expressions, but the quality and aesthetic of my brand.

Black owned japan
Photo credit: Maryella Photography

Describe your experience living and working in Japan.

Living and working in Japan has been a rewarding and culturally rich experience. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d live in a foreign country doing what I love. I’ve been able to explore and see different parts of the world, meet incredible people, and I’ve even gained a Japanese mama-san who loves me like her own.

But, most importantly, I get to serve those who serve us. Impacted by extraordinary sacrifices, sudden changes, and deployments, our military-connected students are beautiful and resilient. I enjoy creating memorable learning experiences for them, and though I’m the teacher, they’ve taught me so much; no matter what, keep going and pressing forward. They do it daily.

Black owned japan
Photo credit: Maryella Photography

What are your future plans for the business?

I want Little Mavericks to make a profound impact somehow, and I continue to build and refine while figuring that part out. My short-term goal is to establish brand partnerships with black-owned brick-and-mortar boutiques so that Little Mavericks can be featured and readily available in major cities.

My long-term goal is to expand my apparel line and eventually walk into major retailers to see Little Mavericks on the racks. My ultimate goal is growth, success, and wealth for my family and I.

Tony O. Lawson


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8 mins read

ArtistsUntold, a Black Owned Clothing Brand that Empowers Black Artists

ArtistsUntold is a Black owned clothing brand that fuses art and fashion. The online retail platform provides up-and-coming Black artists with the opportunity to promote and monetize their artwork through apparel and fine art sales.

We spoke with co-founder, Jordan Abdur-Raoof to find out more about the company and its mission to empower Black artists.

Black Owned Clothing Brand
ArtistsUntold co-founder, Jordan Abdur-Raoof

What inspired the creation of ArtistsUntold and its business model?

I had followed this woman on Instagram for years and she was selling her artwork on apparel. I bought a shirt of hers, and it was just poor quality to be frank. It was then that I was like, you know this is something that I can do. 

I could share the artists’ story, their art, and their mission by creating a platform to pay the artists a portion of each sale. It had everything that I was looking for in a social venture.

Black Owned Clothing Brand

I talked with 30 to 40 people who critiqued it here and there, but generally speaking it seemed like a value proposition that a lot of artists really needed. The one thing that I think is unique to us is that we pay multiples higher than the industry standard to artists. Also, a lot of companies will make artists sign exclusivity agreements where they do not own their artwork anymore, but with us they still retain ownership.

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Essentially the artists are licensing the artwork out to us, and if they one day decided that they did not want the artwork on ArtistsUntold anymore, easy enough; we will take it down. We are trying to be as pro-artist as possible.

Black Owned Clothing Brand

How do you select which artists to work with?

It’s been quite a process. When we first started I’d send out 20 messages a day to different artists who had a few hundred to thousands of followers. And 99 percent of the time you wouldn’t get a response. That has now shifted since June with the Black Lives Matter movement, as it accelerated people’s validation of our value proposition and the service that we’re providing.

Now, some artists will reach out to us such as Brandon Brewer. Brandon reached out when he had about 75 followers. I thought to myself, ‘This is unbelievable. I love the work he’s doing, and I love his creative process along with what he communicates through his art’

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Another example is Uzo, who had only a few thousand followers when we first partnered but now has about 50,000. Seeing them grow exponentially has been really exciting, and I am happy that I was able to see artists and their vision, discuss with our team, and run with it.

Now, it’s almost 100% inbound and we have artists apply and unfortunately, we need to turn artists down from time to time.

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What is the most rewarding and most challenging thing about being an entrepreneur?

The challenges and rewards go hand in hand. The hardest part of this is not having a blueprint, but that is what makes this so much fun. Everyday there is a new challenge, or idea, that we need to handle or implement. We are a smaller firm so we are extremely receptive and work hard to pivot quickly depending on customer feedback.

There is no direction list or manual, so you need to figure everything out for yourself. I make a joke that Google is my best friend, but honestly almost every problem I am confronted with I turn to Google and my partners Xander and Steven and we find a solution.

Whether it’s measuring sales taxes, hiring a marketing firm, figuring out Facebook ads, affiliate programs, shipping, how to best respond to client emails and provide excellent customer service, setting up an EIN & business bank account, accounting, or social media aesthetic we are able to learn, adapt, and implement on the fly.  

Where do you see the business in 5 years?

In 5 years, we hope to be recognized as a premier socially conscious and sustainable streetwear & fine art brand. We would like to have a flagship store/gallery in New York and LA combining streetwear, fine art, music, and of course an amazing coffee bar.

We would also like to have a large enough following where any artist on our platform is making enough passive income to pursue art full time whether they have 50 followers or 50,000 followers.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

First and foremost, is to stop talking about it and actually do it. Create a business plan, share your plan and get as much feedback as possible and adapt on the fly because it will not be perfect. While at Cornell I took a lot of classes on Entrepreneurship that have acted as core pillars for this business.

The most important takeaways for me are to listen and ask for feedback & to adapt quickly based on these ‘interviews’ you are conducting. Lastly, there is a huge component of ‘Grit’ which is a passion and perseverance for long-term and meaningful goals.

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Black Owned Clothing Brand

You have to have the ability to persist in something you feel passionate about and persevere when you face obstacles. I know every day when I wake up, I am going to work on ArtistsUntold whether I want to or not, because I have a commitment to empowering underrepresented communities both financially and by sharing narratives in a positive light that can challenge the stereotypes that exist in today’s society.

I know we have the potential to create hundreds of thousands of dollars in wealth for Black and underrepresented communities and the power to plant hundreds of thousands of trees. This drives me forward, so whatever you create, create it with the right intentions and try to put more good into the world.

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1 min read

Black Veteran & HBCU Grad Creates A Seven-Figure Clothing Brand

HGC Apparel is a Black veteran owned clothing brand founded by Marcia Smith,  a 90’s kid who’s passionate about the uplifting and expansion of the Black community.

black veteran
HGC Apparel founder, Marcia Smith

In this interview, we discuss how this mother and Howard University grad’s time in the military influenced her entrepreneurial journey. We also discuss what she has done to find success online and how she protects her intellectual property.

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Tony O. Lawson


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1 min read

Black Owned Vintage Stores You Should Know

You know what they say, “One person’s trash is another person’s treasure.”  That’s why we’ve compiled a list of Black owned vintage stores that offer one of a kind finds at great prices.

Black owned vintage stores

Mawoolisa

black owned vintage shops

 

Circ Antiques

Black Owned Vintage Stores

Fundinho Brechó

Tracy Chambers Vintage

1984V

Backtrack

Black Owned Vintage Stores

Vinti

Stuck In The Nineties

NXCV

Golden Bird Boutique

BLK MKT Vintage

Black Owned Vintage Stores

Nostalgia Boutique

Vintage and Soul

Black Owned Vintage Stores

Black Culture Vintage

Black Owned Vintage Stores

 

Tony O. Lawson


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1 min read

Former Athlete Moved to Rwanda to Launch a Sports Apparel Business

Allen Simms is the founder of Impano Sports, a company that provides African inspired quality sports apparel designed specifically for athletes, runners, and the active lifestyle community.

Before the big move, Allen was an award-winning athlete at the University of Southern California and a coach at Cornell University.

In this interview, we discussed why he decided to move to Rwanda and what it has been like living and operating a business in East Africa.

We also discussed the sports academy he started to identify and coach young talented athletes to elite level.

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Tony O. Lawson


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1 min read

Black Owned Athleisure Brands You Should Know

Despite a global pandemic and its devastating effects on the retail industry, the athleisure market is having a pretty good year. Athleisure is now becoming everyday wear.

Whether you are buying sweats and biker shorts to lounge around in or for your at-home workouts, be sure to check out these Black owned athleisure brands.

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

Lukafit 

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

Impano Sportswear

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

CultureFit  

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

TriPow3r

Y-Fit Wear 

Pru Apparel

Black Owned Athleisure Brands

Queen Malkia

Full Court 

Kemetic Knowledge  

Damihow

EleVen 

Dope Fit Chick

Sankofa Athletics

ICONI

 

Solely Fit

 

Tony O. Lawson


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5 mins read

This Black Owned Vintage Clothing Business Offers Cool ’90s Nostalgia

The ’90s were the best years of my life. I remember my obsession with all things Hip Hop, RnB, Black sitcoms, and the best Black movies.

That’s why I was excited to discover a Black owned vintage clothing business that specializes in ’90s era paraphernalia, and other cool items. We caught up Eric Brown Jr, the owner of Backtrack Vintage to find out more about his business.

black owned vintage
Eric Brown Jr, the owner of Backtrack Vintage

What inspired you to start your business?

I’ve always had an appreciation for great retail experiences and, initially when I decided to go into the business full time, I wanted to build an amazing brick and mortar location for people to get their vintage clothing fix. Unfortunately, I couldn’t land a retail location no matter what I did or where I looked.

So after months of searching and hearing about seven “no’s” from different landlords around the city, I decided to bet on myself and build my store inside an old school bus.

black owned vintage

I spent about 5 weeks from sunrise and sunset building the inside of the bus and I took it to the streets in April of 2019.

black owned vintageHow do you find the items you sell?

During the early days, I would basically spend an entire day inside different thrift stores, flea markets, and weekend garage sales. Now we have a great network of sellers who we source high-quality vintage garments from, as well as sourcing from some of the best vintage rag houses in Los Angeles.

In addition to those items being mindfully hand-picked to be a piece of nostalgia, we also go above and beyond to find items that are like new and restore items as needed.


What is it about the ’90s era that appeals to you?

Not only were the ’90s the era of my childhood, but it also represented a time in American history where there was a lot of abundance. For a young person during that era there was no shortage of wearable merch from movies, tv shows, and sports teams.
Black owned vintage
Plus the vast majority of garments were made here in the USA and that higher level of quality when it comes to manufacturing has really helped these vintage items last almost 30 years later. Not to mention brands like Tommy Hilfiger and Polo Sport by Ralph Lauren emerged as the trendsetters in what we would call “streetwear”.

How has business been during the past few months and what are you doing to adapt?

Initially we were definitely anxious during the beginning stages of Safer at Home Orders, and, much like most businesses, we’ve shifted to being strictly online. We’ve doubled down on the customer experience and branding, showcasing the uniqueness of our company.
Black owned vintage
Obviously getting your retail fix in an old school bus is an amazing shopping experience and we didn’t want the online Backtrack experience to be underwhelming.
Black owned vintage
Our goal is to make receiving an order from us a complete experience, from the artwork on the outside of the bag to the items they’ve purchased within it.


If you could wake up tomorrow as an expert in any area of business, which would it be and why?

I’d have to say “communication.” In all aspects of running a business, communication is key. Whether it’s with customers, vendors, or employees if you can effectively communicate you will be effective at getting your desired outcome.

It’s something that I’ve forced myself to become better at over the years and it’s definitely paying off.

What advice do you have for aspiring entrepreneurs?

The best advice I can give would be to realize that you don’t have to be better than the next person, but you do need to be different. Nobody likes a copycat.
You should try and figure out at least 10 things that make you different than the other businesses in your field, otherwise, you’re just another person selling the same old thing.
-Tony O. Lawson 

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