4 Black Women Fashion designers pairing Style + Ethical Sustainability
Yemzi is founded by designer Elizabeth-Yemi Akingbade, a British-Nigerian fashion designer residing in East London. Yemzi uses sustainable materials to blend prints influenced by her origins blended with simple modern aesthetics of her western upbringing. Her styles are hand sewn in small batches in East London. By employing female seamstresses of marginalised backgrounds with fair pay, Yemzi is combating the current trends of mass production that result in cheap labour in sweatshops. Yemzi is heralded for their 100% silk and cotton print pieces that are stylish while not compromising comfort and wearability.
Brother Vellies proves that style does not have to be compromised when creating sustainable footwear. Creative Director and founder Aurora James resides in Brooklyn, but the shoes are hand-made by artisans and stay-at-home moms in South Africa, Ethiopia, and Kenya. James feels that the best way to ensure long-term growth and development on the continent is by empowering the people by providing them with experience and skills while providing fair wages. Each shoe is handcrafted which cuts down on machinery usage employment rates high. Their signature furry sandels have been copied by less environmentally conscious lines such as Zara.
Designer Loza Maleombho represents fashion afro-futurism with her blend of Ivorian traditions and New York city urbanism to create newly imagined structured bright colored garments with the sides cut out and unique fabrics dangling in suspension, creating a style that makes each woman who dons the garments look like a superhero. She can be found on Instagram wearing her own designs with photoshopped materials such as fruit and sewing machines on her head. Her creativity doesn’t rest as she works alongside artisans in Côte d’Ivoire to amplify the synergies between her origins and the styles she come to know while interning and studying in New York City.
Recho Omondi was born in America to Kenyan immigrant parents. She was raised in whitewashed middle America but would spend her summers in Kenya. Each of the worlds she occupied could not fathom the other. Now she finds herself telling her story through her designs. Her colourful designs are still being cultivated out of her apartment/ studio in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn. Omondi says that she loves black women and wants her images to depict dark-skinned women so that the world can see them, so the world can see her. Her pastel colors and bright hues are adornments for the highly melanated. Recho thinks the fashion industry’s current structure of showing new clothes six times a year produces too much waste, so she’s not doing collections, she is focusing on one style at a time. She has become known for her crew neck sweaters with NIGGAS hand stitched across the front. Omondi insists that if she is going to be in the fashion industry, she is going to do some “black shit”.