While many of you might be new to the concept of exercising your purchasing power, it is perhaps one of the simplest and most effective ways to fight for racial justice in America. The clothing and footwear industries are enormous. Globally, the clothing and footwear market is estimated to be worth around $1.9 trillion dollars, and the United States constitutes a sizable portion of this: Revenue for American apparel in 2019 was nearly $360 billion. This gigantic industry is unique in that it is driven by ordinary consumers who make the choice to buy these products.
Consumers have a voice in the way these companies operate and can encourage them to embrace changes for the better by choosing to spend or withdraw their money. At the end of the day, all clothing and footwear companies are looking to maximize their profit, and the collective action of consumers withholding money from the market will force companies to change. Calvin Martyr is one example of someone who saw the power of the dollar. Martyr organized #BlackOutDay2020, a campaign in which he encouraged Black Americans not to purchase anything or to move their purchases to Black-owned businesses for a day to display how large an impact the Black community has on the American economy.
Now that the power of purchasing has been established, it is helpful to look at some companies to which you can redirect your purchases. However, it should be noted that this is a very concise list representing a plethora of amazing Black-owned fashion brands that deserve to be explored and supported.
Renowned LA: This brand was founded by John Dean, who originally hails from Akron, Ohio. This brand’s creative streetwear offerings have established a loyal fan base very quickly. According to Dean, the company’s growth strategy is to take its time as it and continues to make great products with the goal of raising awareness of important issues. LeBron James, another Akron native, teamed up with the brand to raise money for The Lebron James Family Foundation.
Chelsea Bravo Studio: Chelsea Bravo’s brand can be characterized by simple and comfortable silhouettes that have a sensation of being grounded with the sustainable materials from which they are made. Her women’s, men’s and unisex pieces feature warm earth tones with organic lines and fits. Purchasing garments from Chelsea Bravo supports not only a Black-owned business but also a brand that prioritizes sustainability in its production process.
The KeÏta Swing Top from Chelsea Bravo is pictured. via Chelsea Bravo
Tier NYC: This Brooklyn-based brand is a favorite of celebrities like Carmelo Anthony, Rick Ross and Jimmy Butler. Founded by Nigeria Ealey, Esaïe Jean-Simon and Victor James, the garments offered by this brand are effortlessly cool. Many of the garments are sweatsuits in simple colors that could be perfect for working for home while still being very fashionable. The company also sells other accessories like hats.
Shop Nichole Lynel: Shop Nichole Lynel is a rapidly growing online fashion brand. It offers a wide variety of clothing pieces designed by Nichole Lynel, who has an active and fierce Instagram account that often showcases her pieces. My personal favorites are the edgy denim pieces which range from fringe boyfriend jeans to dramatic uneven denim skirts.
Lola Ade: This jewelry brand offers everything from delicate gold pieces to bold, colorful resin earrings and bracelets. Designer Lola Ade draws inspiration from both her childhood in Lagos, Nigeria and her current traveling to create bright and unique pieces. The brand is quite affordable for high-quality jewelry, so it is a perfect spot to buy holiday gifts this year!
Overall, exercising your purchasing power is one of many ways to fight racial injustice and other issues important to you. It is one of the simplest ways to continue the necessary fight and is an action that can have cascading effects in the clothing market and economy. Especially as the holidays and their corresponding purchasing spikes approach, it is essential to continue to educate yourself and make small changes in your life that can have a ripple effect. Additionally, while the focus here was the fashion industry, the power of your dollar extends to all sectors of the economy, a fact that should be both recognized and harnessed.