Browse Tag

fashion designer

3 mins read

From Amsterdam Blog to €30 Million Fashion Brand: The Rise of Daily Paper

Daily Paper’s story isn’t a runway fairytale, but a journey born on the streets of Amsterdam in 2008.

Three friends – Jefferson Osei (Ghanian), Hussein Suleiman (Somalian) & Abderrahmane Trabsini (Moroccan). – fueled by a shared passion for fashion, music, and their African heritage, started a blog.

Daily paper
FOUNDERS JEFFERSON OSEI, ABDERRAHMANE TRABSINI AND HUSSEIN SULEIMAN (CLOCKWISE). IMAGE: DAILY PAPER

This platform became a space to explore their cultural influences and style, and it quickly gained traction, blossoming into something much bigger. Their initial foray into the fashion world was a simple yet impactful move: five branded T-shirts.

Fast forward to today, Daily Paper is a force to be reckoned with, boasting a reported €30 million valuation and a devoted global following. Their unique approach – merging contemporary streetwear with bold African prints and patterns – has set them apart in the fashion industry.

Their collections, released through a “drop-based” model to maintain excitement, are a testament to their commitment to both innovation and their cultural roots.

A Reflection of Heritage and a Booming Market

This emphasis on their African heritage, a reflection of Trabsini’s Moroccan background, Osei’s Ghanaian roots, and Suleiman’s Somali family history, is a core part of their brand identity. It resonates deeply not only with their own community but also taps into a much larger trend.

The global streetwear market, estimated to be worth a staggering USD 187.6 billion in 2022, is experiencing significant growth, with a projected CAGR of 3.52% until 2032. Daily Paper’s success can be seen as part of this larger movement, where consumers are increasingly seeking unique and culturally-inspired clothing.

Growth and Impact Under Strong Leadership

The brand’s loyal community attracted serial investor Rodney Lam, who joined Daily Paper as CEO five years ago. Recognizing the potential, Lam implemented key strategies to propel the brand forward. He expanded their reach through wholesale stockists in high-end stores like Selfridges and Galeries Lafayette, while simultaneously strengthening their direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform and opening three flagship stores.

These strategic moves, coupled with an expanded product offering, saw Daily Paper’s revenue soar from €500,000 to a staggering €30 million in just five years (according to a 2021 report).

Looking Forward: A Bright Future

From their Amsterdam base, Daily Paper’s influence continues to expand across the globe. With a growing presence in stores worldwide and a thriving online platform, the brand is poised to keep pushing boundaries in the fashion world.

They do this all while staying true to their cultural roots, inspiring a new generation through their unique style, social responsibility initiatives, and a commitment to staying at the forefront of a rapidly growing fashion movement.

by Tony O. Lawson

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10 mins read

LOVE DOT: A Fashion Brand Celebrating Roots with Bold Style

LOVE DOT is more than just a clothing line – it’s a vibrant tapestry celebrating the power and heritage of the African diaspora. Founded by Nneka Ude, a designer and storyteller, LOVE DOT uses its clothing and accessories to weave a narrative that honors these roots.

With roots spanning Nigeria and the American South, Ude infuses her designs with a deep respect for tradition. This creates bold, sophisticated pieces that connect her diverse identities.

Join us as we explore how LOVE DOT intertwines culture, fashion, and social impact.

LOVE DOT
Nneka Ude, founder of LOVE DOT (Credit: Nick Moody)

What inspired you to create LOVE DOT?

I started LOVE DOT to pay homage to my roots. The name itself gives honor to my late mother, Dorothy Dudley, who was affectionately referred to as “Dot”.

She is the inspiration fueling my desire to build a brand that centers on and celebrates the power of the African diaspora. LOVE DOT is truly a representation of me, my background, and my family history. My roots span Nigeria and the American South. I’ve always been passionate about finding ways to connect the dots of my various identities across the diaspora.

Fashion and design became an obvious path to do so. I’m not a trained designer but I’ve always had an eye for beautiful textiles and unique designs that make a statement without any real effort. As someone who is constantly on the move, I realized the importance of creating pieces that are bold, and easy to wear, but also timeless.

love dot
Image credit: Team Black Image Ghana

Our prints tell a story. They are bold, unexpected, and ambitious. My goal is to create clothing and jewelry that inspire people to move with a higher level of sophistication and confidence anywhere they are – from social gatherings to corporate functions. 

How did you initially fund the launch of your business?

I’m a hybrid entrepreneur. So by day, I am a senior strategy leader for one of the largest shopper marketing and creative commerce agencies in the United States. By night, and every other off-hour in my day, I am the CEO and Creative Director of LOVE DOT. To get the company off the ground I relied on my corporate salary and eventually business credit. 

love dot
Image credit: Team Black Image Ghana

How do you balance social impact with building a profitable business?

I believe economic development and collaboration across the diaspora is the most relevant form of social impact when it comes to building Africa.

I aim to work directly with established small businesses across West and Southern Africa that have long been pillars of economic support and development for their local communities. I want the growth of LOVE DOT to be reciprocal—a reinvestment into other Black and African-owned businesses across the diaspora. Our partners employ trained and skilled laborers above market wages, often providing them with food and accommodations.

Our items tend to be priced comparable to other accessible luxury brands allowing us to maintain a healthy focus on people AND profit. Too many people see Africa as the land of the exploited. A place where everyone’s skilled labor is there to be leveraged by others at the lowest possible costs; setting the bar low for what people are willing to spend on a quality end product. 

Image credit: Team Black Image Ghana

From an environmental perspective, we are equally focused on matching our production to demand. Our Batik fabrics are made in-house using textiles (cotton) sourced from Togo and Benin. Each collection is batch produced in limited stock, with excess fabrics used to make other items like wallets, scarves, and headwraps.

We limited production to limit waste and better control our margins. But we also limit production to break a vicious cycle. An article by Bárbara Poerner for the Fashion Revolution, titled “Where do clothes end up? Modern colonialism disguised as donation,” highlights how 70% of donated clothes end up back in Africa as waste or for second-hand resale. By limiting waste and maintaining high standards, we avoid contributing to this problem.

Fashion is the biggest form of waste. Africa has become the world’s dumping ground for second-hand goods. Our goal is to ensure that we aren’t contributing to the problem.
Image credit: Team Black Image Ghana

Can you elaborate on the selection process that led to your partnerships in Ghana and South Africa?

We found our manufacturing partners by networking at global retail trade shows and expos. Often, the economic development commissions of a country will bring a constituency of vetted and established small businesses to exhibit at these events.

It’s a way for governments to promote small business development within a specific industry. I’ve leveraged these events to find potential partners that align to our mission and meet our specific partner requirements.

LOVE DOT
Team LOVE DOT: Image credit: Team Black Image Ghana

How do you ensure that traditional techniques are preserved while collaborating on contemporary designs?

The tradition is in the fabric. Our Batik fabrics are handmade using traditional techniques. Batik is a beautiful, wax-over-cotton, stamping process that takes a tremendous amount of skill and knowledge to deliver.

It’s a process that has been done for centuries across West Africa and  Southeast Asia and has been perfected for decades by our team and partners. We aren’t cutting corners or deviating from the process, which takes time and nature to perfect.

We are then taking each bundle of fabric and transforming it into clothing that the modern woman or man, who’s chasing their dreams, can wear with the utmost confidence and pride. 

Image credit: Team Black Image Ghana

If you could wake up tomorrow as an expert in any business skill, what would it be?

Of all the questions, this has to be the toughest to answer! 

I hail from a corporate background so I used to order, process, and structure – both of which are often lacking when doing business abroad. 

Over the past three years I think the three business skills I could give a TedTalk on would be the ability to adapt, problem solve, and the power of emotional intelligence.

Starting a business is not easy. However, doing business anywhere on the continent is not for the faint of heart. Things are different. How business is conducted is different. You have to learn to adapt fast.

You have to learn how to quickly discern what may be going on around you, in cultures that may be foreign to you. You have to learn how to figure things out to make things work – which sometimes takes focused planning and other times requires strong, in-country personal relationships.        

Image credit: Team Black Image Ghana

Where do you see your company in the next 5 years?

Five years from now LOVE DOT will be a brand that is not just sold through our own online retail channels, but will also be available at major retailers such as Wolf & Badger, Nordstroms, and Anthropologie.

Our production will not only span South Africa and Ghana, but will once again be rooted in Nigeria and incorporate other traditionally woven fabrics – like Akwete.

The initial designs that started LOVE DOT were produced in Nigeria, but in recent years we pulled back production due to the rising costs of doing business. 

See the full collection at www.LOVEDOT.co

Press, Business, and Wholesale Inquiries:

Nneka Ude – nneka@lovedot.co

Customer Service – love@lovedot.co

2 mins read

Black Owned British Fashion Brands You Should Know

From innovative streetwear to luxurious couture, Black owned British fashion brands offer a refreshing and inspiring perspective that resonates on both local and global stages.

In this article, we shine a spotlight on these creative visionaries and their exceptional brands, highlighting the must-know names that are shaping the future of fashion.

Black Owned British Fashion Brands

Tolu Coker

Tolu Coker is a British-Nigerian fashion designer known for her vibrant, socially conscious designs. She often explores themes of identity and heritage, using recycled materials and handcraft techniques.

Wales Bonner

Black owned british

Founded in 2014 by Grace Wales Bonner, Wales Bonner is celebrated for blending European and African influences. With her Jamaican heritage, the British designer explores themes of identity, heritage, and representation in her acclaimed fashion brand.

Kai Collective

Kai Collective is a London-based contemporary fashion and lifestyle brand intentionally crafted to make women feel their most confident. They are home to the famous Gaia dress and are known for vibrant unique prints and silhouettes.

Lisou

Lisou is a London-based womenswear brand specializing in luxurious silk pieces with bold, exclusive prints. Their classic silhouettes with a modern twist are designed to be worn for years.

Casely-Hayford

Black Owned British Fashion

Casely-Hayford is a British fashion brand founded in 2009 by Joe Casely-Hayford and his son Charlie Casely-Hayford. The label is known for its unique blend of bespoke tailoring and contemporary streetwear, creating stylish and comfortable garments.

A-Cold-Wall*

Black Owned British Fashion

A-Cold-Wall* is a British luxury menswear brand founded in 2015 by designer Samuel Ross. The brand is known for its unique blend of streetwear and high fashion, often incorporating elements of industrial design and architecture into its clothing.

Farai London

Black Owned British Fashion

Farai London is a fashion label known for its bold, statement-making designs. Their clothing and dresses feature distinctive prints with daring cuts, perfect for the confident woman who loves to stand out.

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4 mins read

Key Lessons from Glam-Aholic Lifestyle and Milano Di Rouge, Two Black-Owned Fashion Brands with $100M+ Combined Sales

The fashion world is witnessing the rise of two powerhouse Black-owned brands: Glam-Aholic Lifestyle and Milano Di Rouge. These aren’t just about selling style; they’re about inspiring and empowering people.

Founded by Mia Ray and Milan Harris respectively, both Glam-Aholic Lifestyle and Milano Di Rouge have carved their own unique paths to success. Their journeys are testaments to resilience, creativity, and unwavering determination.

Glam-Aholic Lifestyle has reportedly achieved impressive sales of over $50 million, while Milano Di Rouge boasts sales exceeding $70 million.

This remarkable success story proves that diversity and authenticity are more than just passing trends; they’re the cornerstones of enduring achievement in the fashion industry.

Mia Ray

According to Mia, Glam-Aholic Lifestyle isn’t just a brand; it’s a movement. From its inception 14 years ago, her vision of affordable luxury has resonated with women from all walks of life. Starting with a fashion and lifestyle blog, Mia built a community of loyal followers, leveraging the power of social media to showcase her designs and connect with her audience. Her live product drops on Instagram became legendary, creating a sense of excitement and urgency that propelled Glam-Aholic Lifestyle to new heights.

Milan Harris

Similarly, Milan Harris’s Milano Di Rouge is a testament to the power of authenticity and representation. Rejecting the conventional approach of naming the brand after herself, Milan created Milano, a name that embodies her creative vision and entrepreneurial spirit. Through social media, she connected with celebrities and influencers, showcasing her designs and celebrating diversity. Her commitment to authenticity and community has created a loyal following that sees Milano as more than just a brand but as a reflection of themselves.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

Both women faced challenges on their journeys to success. From navigating the complexities of the fashion industry to overcoming financial hurdles, they encountered obstacles at every turn. Yet, they persisted, learning and evolving with each setback. Their stories serve as reminders that success isn’t just about the destination but about embracing the journey, one step at a time.

One key lesson from Mia and Milan’s stories is the importance of authenticity. Mia designs clothes that she would wear herself, ensuring that each piece reflects her personal style and values. Milan, on the other hand, celebrates diversity and representation, showcasing real people of all body types wearing her creations. This authenticity has resonated with their audiences, fostering a sense of connection and loyalty that transcends mere consumerism.

Another lesson is the power of community and empowerment. Both Mia and Milan strive to uplift those around them, whether it’s through sharing stories of resilience or supporting social impact initiatives. They understand that success isn’t just measured by financial gains but by the impact one makes on others.

As Mia and Milan continue to chart their paths forward, they offer words of wisdom to aspiring entrepreneurs. Let go of negative thoughts and negative people, embrace uncertainty, and don’t be afraid to fail. Every setback is an opportunity to learn and grow. With unwavering determination and a commitment to authenticity and empowerment, anything is possible.

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2 mins read

Black Owned Clothing Brands for Your Spring Wardrobe

As the sun peeks out and the days get longer, it’s the perfect time to refresh your wardrobe with some spring staples. But with so many brands out there, it can be tough to know where to start.

This year, why not support Black owned clothing brands and discover some incredible new designers? From breezy dresses to statement tops, Black-owned clothing brands offer a range of styles to flatter any figure and elevate your spring look.

Black Owned Clothing Brands

STZY

STZY engineers high-performance socks with features like reinforced seams and moisture-wicking fabrics to keep athletes of all levels comfortable and supported.

Philadelphia Printworks

Philadelphia Printworks is a clothing brand that creates clothes inspired by social justice movements. They feature designs that promote social justice messages and celebrate the legacies of revolutionary leaders

Autumn Adeigbo

Autumn Adeigbo offers vibrant women’s clothing and accessories that empower women. Their show-stopping pieces prioritize sustainability and social impact, crafted ethically to minimize waste and uplift female artisans worldwide.

Sammy B

Sammy B is a clothing line designed for the modern woman. Their garments combine feminine styles with a touch of unexpected flair, achieved through clean lines, thoughtful details, and a relaxed feel.

Buzzoms

Buzzoms empowers women to ditch the bra with their comfortable, supportive clothing designed for all body types. Their unique sizing system ensures a perfect fit, while their mission is to create a bra-free revolution for confident women.

Peju Obasa

Black Owned Clothing Brands

Peju Obasa, a London-based women’s fashion brand, seamlessly blends vibrant cultural influences with sustainable practices, crafting innovative pieces rich in color, texture, and inspiration for the spring season.

D’IYANU

D’IYANU (dee-ya-nu) is a ready-to-wear bold print clothing line offering quality, trendy African-inspired fashion at affordable prices.

SONDÉR NEW YORK

Black Owned Clothing Brands

Sondér New York is a clothing brand aiming to create wardrobe staples and statement pieces for the subtle, sleek, and polished through a minimal design.

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10 mins read

DIARRABLU: Where Math, Tradition, and Sustainability Meet Fashion

DIARRABLU is a luxury fashion brand that blends mathematics, sustainability, and cultural traditions to create unique and beautiful clothing.

In this interview, we spoke with founder Diarra Bousso about her journey as a fashion designer, her passion for creative mathematics, her insights on the future of the fashion industry and more.

DIARRABLU
Diarra Bousso

What first drew you to become a fashion designer, and how did you get started in the industry?

I started my parent company in 2013 after feeling very unhappy on Wall Street and craving more creativity in my life. I returned to Senegal to reconnect with my artisanal heritage and started designing. For years, I was testing accessories and various types of clothing until 2015, when I decided I wanted to focus on building a contemporary lifestyle brand. However, the big breakthrough happened in 2018 when I went to Stanford for my Master’s exploring creative mathematics.

I used to draw and paint since very little, and for the first time, I was so swamped with teaching and grading that I no longer had the time or bandwidth to draw. I then had the idea to use math equations and concepts to create my textile patterns faster. This changed the direction of my company, and from then on, DIARRABLU became a fashion tech company using math to create fashion more efficiently and more consciously. 

Can you tell us about your teaching and research of Creative Mathematics in Silicon Valley and how it relates to your work in fashion design?

I became a math teacher after getting my Master’s in Math Ed at Stanford in 2018. One day I was grading Algebra papers focused on graphing linear, absolute value, and quadratic equations and started seeing their mistakes differently. Many students would place the vertex of the quadratic elsewhere or just get confused with the symmetry.

I looked at the realm of their answers across 88 students and started daydreaming about the patterns all their combined mistakes could produce. The next day, I stayed up all night graphing various equations and coloring the intersecting regions randomly. It set the tone for how I would re-teach graphing in my Algebra class for the following weeks but also informed an innovative new design process for my prints.

Being from an artisan family, the natural next step was to fuse both worlds. Today I create innovative ways to teach mathematics using art/fashion and my lessons are used by over 20,000 math educators around the country. 

DIARRABLU

How do you merge algorithms, tradition, and sustainability in your design concept?

As a mathematician, I’ve always been fascinated by numbers. At DIARRABLU, we’ve created a system that utilizes math algorithms to generate numerous print iterations using a combination of shapes, colors, textures etc. I either manually write equations to create patterns, use AI and machine learning or hand paint my designs.

Often it’s a combination of both as I love merging the authentic and the automatic. These prints are rendered on digital designs and shared on social media for people to vote. We only move to production based on customer demand and engagement. Through this approach, we’ve been able to reduce textile waste by 60% while continuously introducing new designs digitally.

In my culture, sustainability is a way of life rather than a fleeting trend. By producing on demand instead of stocking inventory, we remain true to our values and help the industry to reduce waste. It’s who we are and what we stand for. 

DIARRABLU

How do you manage your global team between Dakar, New York, Sao Paulo and San Francisco? 

Our team has grown from less than 10 pre-pandemic to over 45 today, the majority is in Dakar, Senegal, but we also have great members in New York, San Francisco, Sao Paulo, Madrid, The Philippines, Cape Town, Abidjan, among others.

Today, I organize my routine to ensure I support all of them; it’s a challenge, but I’m lucky to have a great team that supports each other. My mom manages the artisan team in Senegal and she now works with great operations managers. My US operation team is managed out of New York and I am focused on managing the creative and marketing teams that are fully remote.

I am also managing the overall company and that requires a lot of alignment and planning. Luckily everyone is so excited and passionate about what they do and we feel like one big international family.

What are some of the challenges you face in leading a global team? 

The biggest challenge is navigating cultural differences. For example, our Dakar team is 100% West African but with multiple countries, languages, and ethnicities and it was so eye-opening to witness how much diversity exists even in a seemingly all Black team. The notion of leadership is very different in Senegalese culture vs Ivory Coast, Benin, or Cameroun.

On the US side, we also see that a mindset focused on efficiency and optimization sometimes goes against the traditions and beliefs of our artisan team in Senegal. There are also language barriers whereby most of the team in Senegal speaks Wolof and French whereas in the US we conduct all meetings in English.

From a global standpoint, the DIARRABLU team features multiple ethnicities across various continents which also means we often can get lost in translation as for most of us, English is a second or even third language. For me, managing people across all these cultures, time zones and languages has helped me grow tremendously. It’s definitely a very humbling challenge I truly welcome every day

DIARRABLU

You’ve showcased your collections during New York and Paris Fashion Week and represented Senegal at World Fashion Week Paris. What is your biggest achievement so far?

Starting and running a fashion brand out of my childhood bedroom makes every achievement a big deal. From selling with huge retailers, like Nordstrom, to seeing many people wearing DIARRABLU around the world and supporting our stories. For me, it’s not about money or success. It’s about magic, life, people, and my passion for fashion and math. 

If I had to pick the biggest achievement, however, it would be the fact that this company has allowed my mom to find her true passion in life! Mom left her career to raise 4 kids while my dad worked tirelessly and together they dedicated everything to us and our education. I feel so much gratitude and respect for my parents and their sacrifices. Today, we are all grown and Mom gets to do something she loves, manage a team and feel fulfilled through work that is so meaningful for her and the entire family. 

Diarra’s mother

How do you see the fashion industry evolving in the next few years?

I believe the industry will continue its shift towards sustainability and transparency in production, with technology playing a major role in improving efficiency and reducing waste. I also think that there will be a greater focus on inclusivity and diversity in the industry as consumers demand more representation from the brands they support.

What are your future plans for DIARRABLU?

I want to explore further what we can create by merging math and fashion with our iterative design philosophy while amplifying our message for a more ethical and sustainable fashion future. I am excited to explore home goods and accessories and also invest more time in releasing more art in the forms of paintings, digital prints and NFTs.

by Tony O. Lawson

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4 mins read

The Brooklyn Circus: Crafting a Legacy in American Style

The Brooklyn Circus is a brand that is dedicated to telling the story of style throughout American history.

With a focus on the power of presentation and the importance of context, BKc is revolutionizing the way we think about menswear. From the construction of their varsity jackets to the looms where their denim is woven, every aspect of the brand is carefully curated to reflect a moment in time.

Ouigi Theodore, the Creative Director of The Brooklyn Circus, has cultivated​ a unique style that has garnered recognition not only among the fashion pundits of New York but also from streetwise fans as far away as Europe, South Africa, Japan, Korea, and the U.K.

We caught up with him to learn more about the brand’s inspiration and hear about their ambitious 100-Year Plan to change the way Americans dress, one iconic silhouette at a time.

What inspired the creation of The Brooklyn Circus?

We started The Brooklyn Circus in 2006 on the heels of another retail concept I launched a few years prior.

When I closed that business, I considered leaving retail but gave it a last shot and that was when The Brooklyn Circus was born. We launched The Brooklyn Circus in Feb of 2006 and never looked back. I am heavily inspired by humans—our drive, our will to exist, and the things we do to live and thrive.

How would you describe your brand?

The brand is a living organism, a conversation, and an experiment of sorts. With the varsity jacket at the heart of what we do, you can always see cues of scholastic and athletic references in the work.

Everything that we do is anchored in our history, our victories, and our struggles as a people. I have a history degree and studied graphic design, so you’ll always see the intersection of those things coming together in the stories we tell through our work.

It’s the heart of The Brooklyn Circus/BKc, our 100-year plan, and our essence.


How do you want people to feel when they wear your creations? 

It’s more about the experience and the community and of course the product which ultimately is a souvenir of the experience. People see the pride, joy, and attention to detail we put into our work. From the store experience up to the actual product.

What differentiates your brand from others? 

That’s a pretty broad question. We understand the competitive landscape but try not to dwell on that too much. We absolutely research who and what’s out there for sure to understand who is moving the needle. That said, I’d have to say what has differentiated us in the market is our commitment to Style + Character and The 100yr plan for sure.

What are your future goals for your brand? 

Our goal for the next 5 years of the 84 years we have on this 100yr journey is more retail experiences, and expansion into media, hospitality, and education. Build and open Universities and libraries to share The Brooklyn Circus/BKc approach to the history, design, and movement of Jah people.

What advice do you have for creatives trying to get into the industry?

Research, research, research. And be honest about your intentions and approach to everything you do. Work on things and ideas that will outlast you.

by Tony O. Lawson

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1 min read

Black Owned Fabrics Businesses You Should Know

If you’re looking for Black owned businesses that sell fabrics, look no further. We’ve compiled a list of national and international businesses that offer fabrics of varying styles and textures.

Check them out and let us know who else should be on the list!

Black Owned Fabrics Businesses

AFROTHREADS

Black Owned Fabric

Ankara Malkia

Black Owned Fabric

Pigeon Wishes

Black Owned Fabric

Yaraa African Fabrics

Black Owned Fabric

Melanated Fabrics

Cultured Expressions

Trap Fabricks

Black Owned Fabric

Selvedge and Bolts

Femi Fabrics

House of Mami Wata

Black Owned Fabric

Our Fabric Stash

7Byraz 

Textil Colores Del Mundo

Love Bug Studios

Latifah Saafir Studios

-Tony O. Lawson


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1 min read

Black Owned Swimwear Brands for Men and Women

Black owned swimwear brands are making a splash this summer with a range of designs that cater to all body types and styles.

From classic silhouettes to bold, statement pieces, these labels are sure to have the perfect swimsuit for your next poolside adventure or beach getaway.

Black Owned Swimwear Brands

Riot Swim

Ofuure

Nakimuli 

Black owned swimwear

Eyegasmic Swimwear

Andrea Iyamah 

Asherah Swimwear 

B Fyne 

Ashanti Swimwear

Mint Swim

 

Koko D.

Xhale Swim

 

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