The conscious effort made to support small businesses by shopping local was our favorite thing about 2020.
Last year was a challenging one for everyone, especially Black business owners. And, with the growing demand for ideas and recommendations for visitors and locals alike, we've curated a list of Black-owned fashion businesses to add to your shopping list.
Here's a mix of local stores and online shops that specialize in everything from sustainable clothing to African-inspired jewelry.
As the host and organizer of the Buy Black Marketplace, Archwood Exchange is dubbed a “hub for Black business in Phoenix.” Thanks to its cooperative-inspired setup, this is where businesses can sell their products in a brick-and-mortar environment without the high costs of overhead. They also have an online shop that offers an eclectic mix of fashion and accessories, such as graphic T-shirts and straw hats. Follow Archwood Exchange on Facebook for vendor and event details (which typically take place the first Saturday of every month).
As owner of Black Russian Label, designer Joanna de’Shay — whose father is Nigerian and mother is Russian — draws design inspiration from her diverse ancestry. The ready-to-wear clothing line is influenced by the lives of active women. Prioritizing fit and texture for garments that empower women to “dress the way they feel.” The brand has two collections: Urban Nomad, with interchangeable pieces in vivid pinks, earthy greens and bold leopard prints, and Global Trekker, inspired by the cultural styles of India, Africa, Russia, Asia and Europe. Pieces in these collections include a range of options, from floral mini dresses and animal print jumpsuits to cropped jodhpurs and asymmetrical skirts.
When sisters Rue Newby, Tish Rezek and Jael Toczko founded their clothing company Label By Three in 2018, their mission was to focus on minimalism, sustainability and versatility, while producing high-quality products and operating with inclusive messaging. Today, their clothing is handmade in Phoenix by local women who are paid a fair wage. Using vegan-friendly, domestically sourced fabrics that are recyclable and biodegradable, Label By Three clothing has a Bohemian chic flair, and includes dresses, skirts and unisex shirts. They also carry vintage clothing and accessories.
A Nigerian-American multimedia artist, Merryn Omotayo Alaka’s line of jewelry stems from West African textiles and Black feminism. She describes her work as drawing its inspiration from “the relationships shared between my ancestry, objects and cultural materials.” With an unmistakable pop culture influence, her jewelry is fashioned from brass and sterling silver, with bold geometric shapes and emblems, such as the Mama Benz Collection, which features cuticle rings.
This vintage clothing and accessories boutique was founded by Kisha Harper, who was inspired by her two daughters Sam and Dana. “It was started from sisterhood,” she explains, with a mission to give back to their community, and to motivate, empower and inspire people through sustainable products. Harper credits her family’s commitment to and passion for sustainability for her love of sharing vintage treasures. This Midtown Phoenix boutique also hosts an online shop that offers an eclectic mix of findings, including an Escada ball gown, Fendi pumps and a Givenchy necklace and bracelet set.
Family-owned and operated, Straw and Wool is a unique hat boutique for men, “conceptualized as the go-to place for today’s stylish man.” Located in the Roosevelt Row Arts District, this shop offers an array of hat styles from Panama to Fedora, including some with embellishments such as feathers and ribbon. Hat sizes range from small to XXL and also come in a rainbow of colors, from scarlet red and cobalt blue to mustard yellow to classic black.
Dedicated to providing clothing for a cause, Empath is an online apparel company that donates a portion of its sales to causes that benefit anti-speciesism and humanitarian efforts. With a moniker derived from the word “empathy,” their mantra is the Golden Rule (“treat others as you wish to be treated”) and that includes animals, too — 10 percent of profits go to animal rescue. Empath Clothing is made in the U.S. and features imprinted T-shirts emblazoned with the word “Empath” and the Golden Rule phrase.
Founded by sisters Elaina and Janell Brown, Olivia Laine is a fashion consulting company that melds Elaina’s background in counseling and Janell’s in communications. The origins of their name correlates to their passion to bring peace and joy to each client they encounter: Olivia rooted in the word “peace” and Laine short for Elaina meaning “joy.” The company offers multiple services including special occasion styling, virtual styling and a wardrobe travel service that helps plan fashion looks tailored to an itinerary.