Black-owned brands are what keep us most excited about the fashion landscape. The smaller, more emerging brands often don’t get as much recognition, but small businesses are what keep any economy going and, more importantly, local communities and ecosystems going. The sustainability conversation has been happening more and more recently. Within fashion, mass consumption/waste is one of the leading causes of pollution, unfortunately. We wanted to take a look at a few fashion brands/designers that are doing their best to create the lowest carbon emissions possible by looking inwardly at their practices. There are sustainable brands, and then there are brands that greenwash. Greenwashing is an ethically corrupt and misleading attempt to say that there are sustainable practices within a brand when there are obviously still morally wrong practices being used.
The brands below are a testament to “practice what you preach.”
Philly-based brand Grant BLVD was founded in 2017 by Kimberly McGlonn. The brand gets its name from the street she grew up on. McGlonn has always been about actions when it came to wanting to help others, and Grant BLVD was one of those actions. They have a textile strategy as well as use donations to give to Book Through Bars, which gives free books to those incarcerated throughout the mid-Atlantic states. McGlonn uses Grant BLVD as a response to oppression and reimagines the world with the one she’s created with her brand.
Hope For Flowers
Launched in 2019, founder Tracey Reese has an eye for color. She is a designer that knows exactly who she is designing for, and she’s definitely the chic woman who isn’t afraid to think outside of the box. The brand stands firm in the ethos “when you know better, do better” by sourcing fabrics ethically and practicing slow fashion within the production of the clothing designs.
Sami Miro Vintage
The young designer Sami Miro founded her namesake brand in 2016. Miro sources fabrics usually through already-made clothing from vintage stores all around the world. She’ll cut and sew pieces from sweaters to denim and create a whole new piece out of it, giving her clothes a youthful new meaning. Most of her sustainable practice is rooted in just not making something totally new —she’s always making the old new again.
The Local European, founded in 2018 by Alexandra Bunch, uses recycled and upcycled materials to create its designs. They don’t overproduce therefore practicing slow fashion, and the use of materials being eco-friendly and produced by local manufacturers reduces their carbon footprint. The brand is all about timeless silhouettes, and not playing into trends heavily helps with their sustainable practices.
Founded in 2013 by Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah, the brand with its West African-inspired designs, use sustainable practices to create one-of-a-kind looks. They stick to the ethos of caring for those who make the clothing just as much as those wearing them. They also focus on creating jobs and opportunities for those in the communities that design for them in West Africa and recently won the CFDA Lexus Fashion Initiative for Sustainability. Even packaging is a concern for the brand as the standard plastic is not usually biodegradable and can cause harm to their West African community. They manufacture in Accra and use plant-based dye and holistic West African practices for their designs.