Is Fashion Activism?: Some companies are stepping up for #BLM

Is Fashion Activism?: Some companies are stepping up for #BLM

After the events of this past week, one fact has become clear to us at Run & Follow: silence is no longer acceptable in the face of systemic failure of justice and racism throughout the United States. It has never been right, but it has occurred nonetheless. No longer. The details are covering every social media platform and news feed. The murder of George Floyd has changed this country irrevocably. The country is mobilizing behind #BlackLivesMatter.

We have seen numerous effective and strong posts speaking about these matters. This post is just one way we are trying to spread awareness. We did not post immediately on our business channels in order to collect resources and educate ourselves so that we could share well-informed content. We know that we should have acted as fast as possible, however as individuals we have been donating, we have been protesting, we have been reading, and we have been posting.

Many companies and influencers have remained radio silent, continuing to post their selfies or pushing their products without a care in the world. This is unacceptable. Anyone with a platform must speak up. Some fans and shoppers have convinced certain people to speak out after initial failures to do so. Others have stayed silent despite collective outrage. If you are a brand or person with influence who has stayed silent, refer to the following quote:

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Fashion is inherently a way to express yourself- your beliefs, who you are. So, is fashion activism? Unequivocally, yes.

That being said, make sure you know what messages you are putting on your body when you wear clothes. Don’t senselessly spend money on a company or a brand that doesn’t align with your beliefs.  To make it easier, we spent this weekend compiling two comprehensive lists: one of black owned businesses and another of companies that have spoken out and stood up for what is right. Please keep them in mind the next time you shop.

If you want to see change, you must adjust your lifestyle to promote the change you wish to see. Posting, reposting, and most importantly, donations to activist causes, are imperative at this time. But in order to make a long term impact, you must support black owned businesses and listen to Black people’s narratives. POC have been systemically disadvantaged in America since its founding. Black people were and arguably still are enslaved. Support Black businesses. Moreover, as a White person in America, you will never experience systemic racism. Understanding the day-to-day struggles of POC in this country is imperative to this movement.

Before we begin that list, let’s address a more pressing matter. Below are resources we have compiled to allow you to educate yourself, donate, and sign petitions. Many of these links are available in other lists as well, but we felt it would be irresponsible not to include them in this post.

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Putting your money where your mouth is one way to demonstrate your support. However, a one time donation or a few posts are not enough. Incorporate supporting Black-owned businesses and speaking out against racism in your daily life.

Below is a list of Black-owned businesses to support during this time. Please refer to this comprehensive list of fashion, jewelry, hair, food services and more posted by cianamai on Instgram. She has been extremely diligent in tagging more brands and businesses in the comments. Please feel free to check out her post.

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Here are some brands we highlighted as well: There was some overlap between the above list! (NOTE: This list is NOT complete. There are many other amazing brands and businesses who we love and plan to support. We encourage you to do your own research as well and not limit yourself to just our list!) 

ASHYA

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Contemporary unisex leather belt bags and travel friendly accessories for the modern day explorer.” They also began selling photography prints. It was founded in 2017 and is Brooklyn NYC based and female owned by Moya Annece and Ashley Cimone. “By documenting and sharing cultural stories, and designing multifunctional accessories, we hope to help the modern day explorer move more thoughtfully and fluidly throughout the world.

BROTHER VELLIES

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Founded in 2013 by Creative Director and Founder Aurora James, this aspirational brand sells a collection of handmade artisanal goods. They uphold a strong sustainability initiative and “strive to lessen the impact of our production practices by continuing to ask questions and make changes each season.” Aurora is constantly being thoughtful, curating amazing pieces, and working in small notable ways. Their flagship store is in Brooklyn.

LEMLEM

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lemlem is an artisan-driven collection of women’s, men’s, children’s and home goods made entirely in Africa. Supermodel Liya Kebede was inspired to launch the brand following a trip to her native Ethiopia where she met a group of traditional weavers who no longer had a market for their craft” They sell a variety of clothes including swimwear, “Mommy & Me”, and a Men’s section. They also have foundation that works to help female artisans in Africa.

TELFAR

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TELFAR is a unisex line Est in 2005 in NYC by Telfar Clemens and sold internationally. It’s not for you — it’s for everyone.” The “Telfar Shopping Bag” has been dubbed one of this past decades most influential bags. The website is experimental with a video constantly playing in the background and very distinct art direction throughout the site. They have been releasing collections since 2012 but recently became a fashion world’s favorite in recent seasons.

OMONDI

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Recho Omondi is a New York based womenswear designer, influenced by the duality of her African heritage and New York lifestyle. Founded in 2013, her namesake label challenges the notion of modernity as it relates to the global, evolving woman.” The founder also runs an extremely informative and entertaining podcast called, “Omondi Presents: The Cutting Room Floor”. She has been working on representation and change in the industry for years. Our personal favorite is on the “authenticity deficit”. Currently we couldn’t find any collections being sold, but Omondi has a collection with Anomie here

NICHOLE LYNEL THE LABEL

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Nichole Lynel is a Los Angeles-based fashion designer, influencer, and entrepreneur. She has two collections, Nichole Lynel the Label which seems to be edgier, and more one-of-a-kind while her other company Nichole Lynel sells more approachable price point items.

RENOWNED LA

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Renowned LA is a brand for “Dreamers…doers…creatives” and is “made for every man and woman who’s ever felt the pull to purpose over popularity…We use streetwear as our medium of expressing that confidence.” The creative directors are John Dean (founder) and Duje Stojak. In 2019 they did a limited collaboration with V Files in NYC that sold out in a week.

NUBIAN SKIN

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A nude bra and skin tone hosiery are the basics of every woman’s wardrobe, at least in theory. For many women of colour, finding suitable skin-tone hosiery and lingerie has not been an option. Frustrated by the lack of skin-tone choices to go with her ever-expanding wardrobe, Nubian Skin founder, Ade Hassan, decided it was time for ‘a different kind of nude’.” Their showroom is located in Central London.

ATIRA LYONS

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We have seen her blowing up Twitter time and time again. She is the “Originator of the Velvet Durag Trend”. She will be opening her first store front on Melrose Ave in LA. It’s even more amazing that she is 20 years old.

THE FOLKLORE

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The Folklore is a New York City-based multi-brand online concept store and wholesale showroom that allows U.S. based and international customers to easily shop exclusive styles from Africa and the diaspora’s top luxury and emerging fashion brands.” They also have an amazing podcast.

Please feel free to comment, and include more businesses to support.

Here are additional businesses that we saw on our feeds speaking out in the past few days. Once again this list is not conclusive, and as days continue to pass we are seeing more and more brands step forward. Going forward, make it common practice to research a brand before you shop to ensure they align with your beliefs. (*cough* The owner of Dollskill is exploitive and posted bigoted content over the weekend. *cough*)

We only included businesses that are making an actual difference and dedicated to change. To us, it is very performative and not truly helpful for a brand to randomly begin donating 15% of sales on a t -shirt for a month and then stop supporting the cause as soon as the media looks the other way.

A few brands on this list are noted due to their goods being an affordable price point and to note their influence while others are here for their authenticity and transparency.

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Lisa Says Gah | ASOS | Orseund Iris | Simonette | Nike | Adidas | Bare Knuckles Co. | Spanx | And many more

Our lists are just the tip of the iceberg. There are many other resources and much more information to check out. By posting this, we are trying to do our very small part to not only stand in solidarity with the movement, but actively promote it.

Finally, consider educating yourselves. Conversations about race shouldn’t make you uncomfortable if you aren’t racist. It’s okay if you have to unlearn habits from your family or small minded town. Here is a link sent to us of free resources to download and read CLICK HERE (a google doc sheet of free downloads of educational material). Through education, listening to other people’s narratives, and making lifestyle changes we can make a long term impact and end racism.

Thanks for reading through this. Change your life in a way that change’s someone else’s life for the better.

 

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