Updated: Jan 27, 2020
By Rachael David and Dami David
Inspired by Maggie Anderson, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Killer Mike, we are on a mission to spend our money within the black economy as much as possible and hopefully make lifelong changes.
My New Year’s Resolution in 2019 was to “buy black more”. But a few weeks in, after watching the first episode of Killer Mike’s show on Netflix show Trigger Warning, I realised that this was too vague and I needed some guidelines. The TV show explores a few of the Run the Jewels rapper’s ideas about how to improve American society. In the first episode, which I'd highly recommend watching, Mike tries (with unimaginable difficulty) to live entirely within the black economy for three whole days. He allowed himself to purchase and use only goods and services that were provided and sourced from black business owners. I was inspired to make the decision to spend within the black economy, where I can, for the rest of my life. I’m trying to make lifelong changes and put my money where my beliefs are (more on this later). To better understand why it is important for everyone to be intentional about increasing their expenditure within the community, I would suggest a bit of reading / watching (perhaps starting with Trigger Warning). I am aiming to substitute as much as I can, non-black-owned brands for black-owned ones in order to keep my money in the black economy for longer. Rather than throw everything non-black owned away and start from scratch, I decided to transition bit by bit. My way of approaching it is to challenge myself to buy black by categories; conquer each one and then move on to the next. The first category I aim to conquer this year is Fashion.
Last year I made a conscious effort to buy most of my new clothes from black-owned brands and was quite successful. I founded Sisí with my sister and best friend last year and rapidly discovered scores of amazing Nigerian fashion brands, many of which are featured on the Sisí blog. I also made an effort to find and shop black-owned brands from other parts of the world. I serendipitously discovered streetwear brand Lagoniassa after meeting their brand manager at a TTYA Talks event and bought a pair of trainers from them. I bought a tracksuit from Trapstar; I love grey and as well as athleisure, so this has to be one of my fave purchases of 2018. Soon after buying it I saw pictures of Jay-Z wearing a Trapstar puffer jacket and felt smugly on-trend. I bought a pair of the ‘Salt’ Yeezy 500s when they dropped in November even though I wasn’t and still am not sure if this counts as a black-owned brand. Obviously Kanye West owns the Yeezy brand but the shoes are technically an Adidas product.
Anyway, I decided to continue this into 2019 and commit to buying all my clothes, shoes and accessories from black owned brands for the whole of 2019. The research I did last year helped me feel confident enough to make this commitment and I feel very prepared to take on the challenge. In early January while in Lagos, I went shopping at The Republic, a fashion boutique in the Lekki Phase I area, and purchased a few pieces from Nigerian fashion brands from there.
I will continue to document my efforts and share any tips, interesting discoveries etc as I go. I must confess that I've already slipped up; I did forget one day and bought a vintage Roberto Cavalli top. It was just a silly blip that I won’t hold against myself so I hope you dear readers will let that slide too.
I’ve always wanted to consume fashion more sustainably. Appreciating the impact and the power of my purse, last year I decided that I would stop buying from fast fashion brands, and in order to keep up with the trends, I opted for pre-loved or vintage substitutes. It was hard, and sometimes I fell short of my commitment, purchasing just a few items from some popular online retailers when I needed an item desperately for a trip or a particular outing at short notice; which made me realise that in order to succeed, I needed to plan better.
However, after starting Sisí last year my sustainable shopping focus evolved to include black-owned brands. I started investing increasingly in pieces from the brands that we were discovering with appreciation of their uniqueness, style and affordability. As an entrepreneur, I understood that in order to be successful at selling African fashion brands we needed to build an emotional connection between our customers and African brands and a great way for us to do this was if we wore them and blogged about them.
My first purchase was of an Ankara dress and top from Raaké, a UK-based Nigerian brand, and later made several purchases of some of Sisi's brands including a bag from O’Eclat, and slippers from Kene Rapu. Alongside my own purchases, Rachael bought me a matching Ankara dress from Agbeke by Halima for our holiday to Uganda and for my birthday my parents gifted me a white distressed scuba dress from Nigerian brand Lola Baej that I had seen Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wearing on Instagram. I was also gifted a pair of mules for Christmas from Nigerian footwear brand Salubata.
Since making the commitment to #BuyBlack in 2019, I’ve had to be more thoughtful about what I need, when I need it, and how I'd get it; so whilst in Lagos in January, I made sure that doing a clothes haul was a priority. Mindful of my need for pieces that I can wear to work, I purchased a puff sleeved cotton blouse from Zii, a wrap snake print dress and a black cape jacket from Nigerian brand Titi Belo all from The Republic in Lekki.
I think that more of us choosing to consciously buy more from African brands can have a positive impact on the black economy and contribute to the development of a sustainable fashion industry in Africa.
Rachael and Dami are wearing brands stocked at The Republic.
Rachael David (@rachaeldavid21)
Damilola David (@eudaimonia_flowers)
The Republic (@republicretailhub)