Featured image: Mothball Memoirs
This festive season, we can collectively do better to support BIPOC: Black, Indigenous, People of Colour. One of those ways is to purchase from BIPOC brands. We want to see you move that money! Don’t know where to start? We spoke to some of our fav activist-influencers for their recommendations and insights on how brands too can do better this season.
(PS: here’s a #LittleGreenStep. You might want to forward these notes to brands this festive season so that they know how to show up and do better.)
Maggie is a Media Communication and Communication Design student, who also happens to be a part-time ethical fashion influencer. On her Instagram page, you’ll find a plethora of conscious fashion recommendations and links to her written pieces on sustainable fashion.
This festive season, Maggie highlights that “recognising that Christmas isn’t a holiday everyone celebrates is important. We tend to sideline other religions and their holidays which can be alienating”, and so we should have our language reflect “the festive season as a whole, rather than just Christmas.” Here are her fav BIPOC brands, originating from Australia, where Maggie herself hails from too!
Rosa Rosa the Label
Rosa Rosa the Label is a Melbourne based and made clothing label that’s run by a one-woman team, Christina. Quirky, bold and fun pieces that are vegan and more affordable than your typical sustainable fashion brand, Rosa Rosa is bringing sustainability to the masses. Small batch collections from deadstock and sustainably printed fabric also mean that less waste is generated. Their aim? To bring life to your wardrobe, and a good conscience.
Bread Beauty Supply
Bread Beauty Supply is a Black-owned Aussie haircare brand that’s fresh, funky and the next big thing. Specifically designed for curly and afro-textured hair, Bread is simplifying hair routines in three no-fuss steps. The end result? A simplified wash day, so that you have more time for everything else. Stocked in Sephora and featured in Vogue, its natural haircare is one to watch.
Clothing the Gap
Clothing The Gap is an Aboriginal owned and led social enterprise selling tees, jumpers and other merch. Accredited with Ethical Clothing Australia, 100% of its profits contribute to creating social change that promotes equity within the First Nations community. They have been instrumental in the #FreeTheFlag campaign which seeks to free the Aboriginal flag from copyright. (Currently, First Nations people aren’t able to use their own flag.)
Summer, better known as @climatediva on Instagram, is a climate communicator, model and (imperfect) environmentalist. Emphasising an intersectional, systemic but accessible approach to climate activism, you’ve probably come across at least one of her activist TikToks.
If brands want to be more inclusive this festive season, Summer suggests they “unlearn a lot of the standards that have become ubiquitous in the fashion and beauty industry today. We operate within the systems of white supremacy, and in order to change that there has to be a conscious and intentional effort to amplify and listen to the voices of people from marginalised communities.”
“Amplify and uplift BIPOC voices that are advocating for change,” she emphasises. “If you want to take it a step further, hire and pay them for their work. Second, really think about who your products are available to and why. Your brand cannot truly be sustainable or inclusive if it’s unavailable to people of all sizes. The last thing is to always make sure you have diverse representation of your brand. Hiring one light-skinned skinny Black model is not enough. Hire dark-skinned models, larger models, Trans models, and non-gender conforming models. I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to see someone that looks like you representing a brand! Representation isn’t everything, but it is important.”
Summer recommends these two BIPOC brands to support this festive season:
Hanahana Beauty is a consciously clean skincare and wellness brand. Their mission? To disrupt the global beauty industry. They want to increase accessibility, transparency, and sustainability in all aspects of what they create. From the fair sourcing of shea butter, to the creation of homemade products, down to the responsible representation of people working with them at every end.
Omi Woods makes contemporary heirlooms that celebrate their connections to Africa and her diaspora. Their jewelleries are individually and ethically made with fair-trade African gold and globally-sourced conflict-free fine metals. (Their gold in particular is sourced from small-scale artisanal mines that support the well-being of miners and their communities. Think fair wage and contributing to improved health care, education, safety and living conditions on the continent!) Not to mention their jewelleries are intended to be worn every day, gifted for special occasions and passed down to future generations so its meaning can live on for generations to come.
Recognising that fashion is one of the most wasteful industries in the world, Nia Thomas runs a namesake slow fashion brand. The brand incorporates conscious solutions into every aspect of the process: from reducing energy to zero-waste to upcycling, and more. Oh, and did we mention dreamy aesthetics with a touch of radical, political content on her page?
Nia points out that beyond diversity in the “imagery they put out into the world”, brands can do better by supporting diversity behind the scenes too. “Hiring a black photographer, black stylist, black MUA, black hairdresser to help you produce content of new products coming out for the holiday season would be amazing.” She adds that it would be even more inclusive to donate a portion of holiday proceeds to BIPOC charities. “We have recently donated a portion of sales to The Black Trans Advocacy Coalition. When we support communities in need, the good karma comes back to us and helps us to manifest greatness in our lives. That type of support is what will drive us forward as a human race. Community over everything.”
Here are three BIPOC brands she recommends, and a little bit more on her own brand:
A La Reunion
A sucker for patchwork? Nia recommends A La Reunion, who absolutely blows her mind with what they’re able to achieve with deadstock materials and fabric scraps. Inspired by the exorbitant amount of waste generated in the fashion industry, Sarah (who runs the show at A La Reunion) re-routed back to her art practice. Expect hand-quilted pieces exclusively made from recycled material sourced from fashion designers based in New York. And special textiles sourced from vintage stores and estate sales.
Puerto Rican goddess Lala Lopez is the genius mastermind behind her favourite curated vintage and sacred goods shop. Every piece she sources can fit into any woman’s closet as her eye for timeless pieces is superb. Nia’s favorite items to get from her Sacred Goods shop are Nag Champa incense, Palo Santo and Florida Water. (Which she loves to have with her when traveling.)
Founded in 2013, Brother Vellies wanted to keep traditional African design practices and techniques alive, while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs. Now creating luxury accessories that celebrate cultural histories and timeless design, you’re going to find truly one-of-a-kind pieces that remain in your wardrobe forever. Nia especially loves their statement shoes, and even more that they’re made by founder and creative director Aurora James: a Black woman and visionary who’s pushing fashion-forward footwear into the future.
Last but not least, a BIPOC brand you should check out this festive season is Nia’s namesake brand. “I’ve never released any pieces that I wouldn’t personally wear,” she says, and it shows. Every single piece from the brand is lovingly crafted. (We especially love her to-die-for rings.) They incorporate elements from ancient artisan practices like hand knitting, hand embroidery, hand dyeing with plants etc. And they support communities all over the world, especially women. For her, it’s about providing wearable art that seamlessly blends into a lifestyle of constant personal evolution.
Aditi Mayer is truly one of our all-time fav activist-influencers using her platform for good. She’s a sustainable fashion blogger who explores the intersection of style, sustainability and social justice. On her Instagram page, you’ll find deep-dives into decolonising fashion, critical perspectives on sustainable fashion and aesthetic photos and unboxings.
“If brands want to be more inclusive or ethical this holiday season,” Aditi says, “I think it’s incredibly important to consider the labor behind the label.” As Fashion Revolution asks: #WhoMadeMyClothes? “Amid COVID this year, we’ve seen that the livelihood of garment workers were the first to be sacrificed, yet garment workers are the heart of the industry. Ethics this holiday season and beyond means centering and prioritising garment workers.” How are the fashion brands you support doing better for the labour behind the label this festive season?
Here are three BIPOC brands Aditi recommends:
If you’re looking for true artisan luxury, look no further than Roope Pemmaraju. With artisans at the heart of their brand, they use time-honoured techniques to create luxurious garments, honouring the exceptional craftsmanship of India. They employ skilled artisans and pay them fairly to bring to life their collections stitch by stitch. These collections are sewn by hand, adorned with love, and envisioned as a modern heirloom, made to be wearable treasures to bring you inspiration and joy for a lifetime.
Little Things Studio
Quirky aesthetics your thing? Love a good statement print and pattern? Always reaching for bold colours? Then this brand is for you. Little Things Studio celebrates the amalgamation of classic and vintage shapes with fresh and contemporary aesthetics. And as an Indian designer label, they’ve always been proud of joining hands with their Indian roots and being in direct touch with their artisans. The product of all this? Handwoven and hand-printed textiles, luxurious staples, always topped off with a pop of colour.
The Summer House
From organic and sustainable fabrics, to timeless styles and silhouettes, you’re bound to find something you love at The Summer House. And something that you can wear forever. The best part? The Summer House says no to the easy way of sourcing materials, making a choice to question every process and ask if they can do it better. Which means: fabrics that don’t abuse the earth. Clothing made in-house and ethically. And working directly with craftsmen and NGOs to ensure they benefit, rather than the middlemen. Inclusive, fair and responsible, there’s not much more we can ask for!
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