Updated: Jun 13
by Rachael David
2020 has been something out of biblically-themed horror movie, especially for black people. Coronavirus is killing us at disproportional rates in UK and examples of recent police brutality in the United States have reminded us how entrenched systemic racism is here and globally. People have been sharing examples of horrific instances of violence both physical and structural that have been committed against black people in the UK to the point that scrolling through my timeline on Instagram has been an emotional gamble lately.
There is some semblance of a silver lining around this dark cloud in that people are being the most vocal I've ever seen on my social media about #BlackLivesMatter and structural racism. I've also observed a lot of posts with helpful guides for non-Black people to re-educate themselves to be anti-racist. The best thing for me however, is the fact that there has been a massive acknowledgement by the black community about the importance of buying black. Not only have people shared accounts for black businesses they know on Instagram, but they have also been associating buying black with a way to take back power as a community. It seems that we at Sisí are not alone, at least anymore.
I very much believe that the key to bringing about change is to focus energy more on creating the new future. For me that future includes black talent being acknowledged as the originators of innovative trends that they start and, perhaps most importantly, being the owners of the businesses that profit from their creativity. This won't happen if I and people like me don't spend our money with the black-owned businesses that already exist.
I started consciously buying black around 2 years ago, and at the beginning of 2019 I set myself a more specific goal to buy 75% of my clothes and accessories from black-owned brands. I definitely bought more lot more clothes from black-owned brands, both compared to the year before and as a proportion what I bought that year, but I didn't quite meet my target for a number of reasons. Mainly, I didn't plan as well as I could have. I realised this undertaking would require a lot of forethought and planning but I underestimated how lazy I can be. In the current world of fast fashion and same day delivery, finding and deciding on an outfit weeks before to ensure you get it from a black-owned brand requires a somewhat significant change in behaviour... at least for me. Another issue is there aren't black-owned businesses (that I know of) trading in the UK for every single type of item that I want. There are some in other countries that I would love to buy from but logistically would be a nightmare or too expensive. Nigeria isn't one of those place as I go often and have family and friends there who can assist. This is one of the reasons we started Sisí, to help consumers here get black-owned brands from abroad easily and affordably (more on this coming soon).
This year, and especially in light of the current mood, I am more determined to get organised about my spending and make a commitment to buy ALL my clothes and accessories from black-owned businesses (big talk, I know). The recent interest in black-owned brands has helped me discover many new ones both here and abroad. The key to my success will be identifying as many easily accessible brands as possible before I need to buy something. I have listed the best black-owned brands that you can shop for and get delivered quickly if you live in the UK below.
Cushnie - A luxury womenswear designer for special occasions. You can shop on Net-a-porter for reasonable delivery to the UK.
Maniere de Voir - For great online shopping experience, quick delivery and very affordable prices (I am not getting paid to write this, this was my actual experience).
Jiro - As seen on Not3s and Ashley Keyana; this is one of the coolest of brands to come out of South London.
Trapstar - Loved by celebrities including Jay-Z and Rihanna, this is the ultimate streetwear brand.
Fenty - And now that @badgalriri lives in London she is officially one of us. Her Ready-to-wear brand launched last year and it's sick. Sunglasses from the new collection are pictured below.
Kai Collective - Sexy ladieswear; think silky shirts and leather corseted dresses in sizes up to XXL.