For years, Black minds and hands have brought some of the biggest fashion moments to the industry. Yet, they are still vastly underrepresented in the space.
AFROPUNK and Shopify are aiming to change that. They’ve recently partnered to launch the Black Fashion Accelerator, an intensive program that will help prepare nine promising talents for long careers in the industry.
The 6-month-long program is offering selected participants to be mentored by experts and will be given access to career-changing resources, including 1:1 mentorship with Chris Bevans, creative director at DYNE, plus three guest mentors who will help guide the process. The program will conclude with a fashion show in June 2022.
Although the program has already wrapped, Shopify is still accepting registrations for their 1 Million Black Businesses program (1MBB), which is aimed to help Black business owners to start and scale their businesses.
AFROPUNK recently announced the Black Fashion Accelerator Class of 2022:
Bronté Laurent (Founder, Par Bronte Laurent): par Bronté Laurent is a luxury womenswear fashion brand that creates classic, chic, and minimal designs that offer comfortability and opulence in each piece. Constructed for women to live unapologetically lavish this label is 70% sustainable by using dead-stock materials sourced and made in Ghana.
Archie Clay III & Tajh Crutch (Founders, WEAR BRIMS): Wear Brims is a luxury hat and accessory company that is founded on the principles of faith, family, confidence, which are at the core of every decision and every design we make. We understand the importance of being your best self internally, and how that translates into how you express yourself fashionably. Our goal is for everyone to present to the world their most confident self. Be the most confident in the room. “Wear Brims. Wear Confidence.”
Corin Lindsay (Founder, CORIN DEMARCO): Corin DeMarco is a lifestyle and apparel brand that provides premium- quality, culturally relevant apparel, and accessories for Historically Black College and Universities (HBCU). Addressing an issue that has long plagued the HBCU apparel space – the availability of premium-quality apparel that is also stylish and tailored to the preferences of the HBCU community of students, alumni, and fans, the Corin DeMarco brand’s super quality and fabrics reflect respect for both the institution and the wearer.
Sophia Danner-Okotie (Founder, BESIDA): Besida is a crafts women’s clothing brand made from bold African print textiles and motifs. It is inspired by its West African origins where all its garments are ethically crafted in Benin City, Nigeria. Besida builds passionate connections to the homeland for black and brown women in the West who seek garments that express their cultural background and native roots. The brand’s unique sustainability approach wins over its customers as a brand to look and feel good in. The brands’ multifunctional designs promote sustainability by increasing the possibility of clothing styles and extending the service cycle of its garments. With its “No Waste” initiative, Besida transforms leftover fabric pieces into stylish hair accessories.
Melissa A. Mitchell (Founder, ABEILLE CREATIONS): Abeille Creations (ABL) is a wearable art & custom design house that offers fashion apparel, athleisure gear, home décor, and fine art. ABL’s ideal audience are those who live life to the fullest and don’t mind standing out in the crowd. The core values are innovation, inclusion, individuality, and inspiration. Every piece that comes from ABL radiates an undeniable light that shifts the brand from just art and apparel to empowerment and (positive) energy transfer.
Paakow Essandoh (Founder, MIZIZI): MIZIZI, meaning “roots” in Swahili, is the official athleisure brand for the African Diaspora. Founded in 2015, it began as a reminder that taking pride in one’s roots is an integral part of self-actualization and has since transformed into a global movement inspired by various cultures revolving around black heritage. MIZIZI’s sport jersey collections have always been designed with the values: connection, celebration, and representation, in mind. Forever and always, the goal is to #StayRooted.
Sylvester Ndhlovu (Founder, RUVAAFRICWEAR): RuvaAfricWear is a lifestyle brand that celebrates The Culture through everyday functional clothing. RuvaAfricWear is changing the narrative by rejecting Eurocentric fashion standards and empowering people to wear a brand that celebrates them, and clothes that have an intrinsic value.
Valerie Blaise (Founder, VAVVOUNE): Vavvoune is a fashion brand focused on bags and leather goods. Inspired by moods, culture, and moments of nostalgia, all our products are designed and produced in New York City. We create passionately made leather accessories while hinting spunk and individuality. We aim to introduce a new tier of luxury, not defined by price points but by experience and intentionality. Our vision is to diversify the market and evolve every season.
Jelisa Smith (Founder, House Of Fleek): House of Fleek offers ready-to-wear and made-to-order high fashion women’s apparel. that offers bold and trendy one-of-a-kind fashions. One of our proudest accomplishments is our commitment to size inclusivity, offering up to size 3X.
These talented creators and entrepreneurs combine innovative ideas with fresh eyes for design, serving underserved markets and inspiring their fellow creators with their ingenuity. AFROPUNK and Shopify hope that these creators will help demonstrate that business and commerce exist to benefit all people, not just a privileged few.