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Three people modelling full denim designs by Sami Miro Vintage.
03 Feb
Three people modelling full denim designs by Sami Miro Vintage.

11 Black-Owned Brands Setting New Standards for Design and Sustainability

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The modern fashion industry is built on racist and colonial systems that harm Black people across the globe. And that fact needs to be core to sustainability. Here we dive into issues of environmental racism embedded in how the industry operates and highlight the Black-owned brands that are paving the way forward with dazzling creativity and sustainability innovations.  

Let’s talk about environmental racism in fashion

Before we celebrate the Black-owned brands leading the way with both creativity and sustainability, it’s important to understand the context: the modern fashion industry is built on racist and colonial systems, which harm Black people around the world.

Across the globe, Black communities and people of colour continue to deal with systematic oppression. Sometimes these racist systems don’t get called out as such. That’s why terms like “environmental racism” and “climate justice” more directly underscore fashion’s negative impacts on people as well as the planet—and how you can’t address the climate crisis without also tackling anti-Black racism.

As documented in our interview with activist Mikaela Loch, “Climate justice means that we can not only tackle climate collapse, but we can also create a better world for all of us that tackles white supremacy at the core, that tackles all these interconnected injustices at their core.”

“A lot of us feel like we’re in last resort territory,” Loach says, “and we need to take drastic action on these issues.”

This call to action encapsulates the intersectionality and importance of this work in society as a whole—and specifically within the fashion industry. With the rise of globalisation and growth of a global economy, supply chains became increasingly complex and international, shifting the growth of fibres, the manufacturing of textiles, and the construction of garments to areas with cheaper labour. Increased consumption via fast fashion and micro trends continues to fuel the production of inexpensive clothing, keeping prices down by outsourcing production to low and middle-income countries (LMICs) such as Guatemala, Bangladesh, and Mexico.

Additionally, textile waste is consistently outsourced to LMIC countries such as Ghana. ABC News highlights this and the way fast fashion brands have created a human and environmental catastrophe. The growing number of poor-quality clothes arriving at Kantamanto Market is a major driver of Ghana’s waste crisis.

“In Europe, the UK and Australia, America, they think [that in] Africa here, sorry to say, we are not like human beings,” Ghanaian clothing importer Emmanuel Ajaab told ABC News in 2021. Even if somebody knocked [on] your door [to beg], you cannot just … pick something from your dustbin. In this case … they’re doing this to us.”

From cradle to grave, the fashion industry continues to exploit Black people and people of colour broadly—from farmers who pick cotton to garment workers on the factory floor. Rooted in colonial oppression, modern slavery persists today—with the wellbeing of those who make our clothes an afterthought in the broader fashion industry’s supply chains. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg—lest we forget the impacts of the fashion industry on the planet and animals.

Forging new paths in sustainable fashion

So, while much work remains to be done, luckily, there are Black-owned brands that are leading the way on doing things differently—in both sustainability and creativity.

Below, you will find incredible upcycled pieces by the stunning Sami Miro Vintage, whose designs have become some of the most celebrated streetwear in LA. Also making sustainability sexy is lemlem with its dreamy ready to wear and summer must-have swimwear. And Adele Dejak’s wonderfully romantic jewellery designs which celebrate Kenyan artisan techniques.

Black-owned fashion brands

Adele Dejak

Rated: It's A Start

F-Kifuli Brass Ring – Ships internationally from Kenya

Adele Dejak’s designs are bold and sophisticated. This recycled brass ring is a piece that you will treasure for a long time thanks to the glory added to your fashion statement.

Made ethically in Kenya from more environment-friendly materials, Adele Dejak respects the traditions of the past. In creating jewellery, the brand is keen to celebrate cultures, teach technical skills, and create employment opportunities.

See the rating.

Shop Adele Dejak.


Rated: Good

Oatmeal Set – Ships internationally from the US

For the LA vibes—made from 100% recycled cotton fleece, this Oatmeal Set is definitely “ready-to-wear” in the house or out on the town. Hand-dyed in Los Angeles and paid with living wages, this unique set is a great alternative to Nike.

CBAAF or “Come Back As A Flower” is a proudly Black-owned brand that stocks curated vintage pieces alongside its in-house collection (as seen above).

At the time of writing, the set can be found in US sizes XS-L.

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Rated: It's A Start

Gigi Cutout Dress – Ships internationally from the US

For those dreaming about warm summer days (or planning a Spring Break get-away), the Gigi Cutout Dress is a fun and flirty must-have.

lemlem is an artisan-driven collection of womenswear, menswear, and kidswear, as well as home goods. Everything is made entirely in Africa, founded by supermodel Liya Kebede. It partners with independent artisans in Africa and has a mission to improve social conditions. Meaning to bloom and flourish in the Ethiopian language of Amharic, lemlem is committed to elevating artisanship and expanding production and jobs across Africa.

At the time of writing, the dress can be found in US sizes XS-L.

See the rating.

Shop lemlem.

Sami Miro Vintage

Rated: Good

Open Seam Backless Halter Top in Black Terry – Ships internationally from the US

Made from high-quality, organic hemp and French terry cotton, this Backless Halter Top takes streetwear to the next level.

”Pushing eco-conscious boundaries” is the Sami Miro Vintage brand ethos. Made from vintage and recycled fabrics, Sami Miro Vintage is loved by celebrities and eco-conscious fashion lovers alike. With collection names like ”Ecoterror” and ”Global Warming Is Not a Hoax’,’ the cool reconstructions are offset with a deeper meaning.

At the time of writing, the top can be found in US sizes S-XL.

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Shop Sami Miro Vintage.

Jade Swim

Rated: Good

Micro Naomi One Piece – Ships internationally from the US

The Micro Naomi One Piece is a sleek, sexy new take on a classic one piece. If nude isn’t your favourite colour, the piece also comes in white or black.

Jade Swim is an LA-based swimwear brand that combines a minimalist aesthetic with innovative silhouettes, and unique design details. Founder and former fashion editor Brittany Kozerski combines her minimalist aesthetic with innovative silhouettes and unique design details.

At the time of writing, the swimsuit can be found in US XS-XL.

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Shop Jade Swim.


Rated: Good

Mia Foulard – Ships internationally from Canada

Ready to cocoon yourself? The Mia Foulard is the perfect comfort accessory to get you through the cold season. Carefully crafted in a rich mohair and extra-fine wool blend using time-honoured techniques, this heirloom-quality winter essential is the next best thing to wearing a cosy blanket.

GOODEE is a certified B-corp, lifestyle brand that offer a wide range of products including rugs, furniture, and homewares sourced from artisans globally. Founders Byron and Dexter Peart have set out on a new venture to launch and develop meaningful brands dedicated to offering sustainable solutions for modern living.

See the rating.



Rated: Good

Upcycled Scrunchies 2-Pack – Ships internationally from the US

Designed and responsibly manufactured in Los Angeles, the Gracemade Renew Hair Collection is created from fabric scraps that are leftover during the garment production process.

Gracemade is a faith-driven clothing company based in the US that offers timeless, modest pieces across womenswear.

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Shop Gracemade.

Two Days Off

Rated: Great

Indya Tank – Ships internationally from the US

This vintage-inspired tank has adjustable straps and beautiful mother of pearl buttons. It’s the perfect summer staple and effortless layering piece. This edition is available in a textured cotton crepe.

Two Days Off brings a sense of ease to your wardrobe and your mind. Prioritising deadstock and biodegradable materials, the brand runs limited run pieces that are longwearing and thoughtfully designed. Check out this piece on the founder Gina Stovall.

At the time of writing, the Indya Tank can be found in US sizes XS-4XL.

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Shop Two Days Off.


Rated: Good

Recycled Cashmere Jumper Caterina in Light Green – Ships internationally from the UK

This recycled cashmere sweater is made with a special knitting stitch which enhances the brightness of the recycled cashmere. The special stitching also adds a beautiful textured effect to the jumper and makes for a feature item in your wardrobe.

Founded by university friends and now partners Kalkidan Legesse (originally from Ethiopia) and Vidmantas Markevicius (originally from Lithuania), Sancho’s is a more ethical and sustainable fashion store and brand based in Exeter.

At the time of writing, the jumper can be found in UK sizes XS-XL.

See the rating.

Shop Sancho’s.

Tree Fairfax

Rated: It's A Start

Medium Bucket Bag – Ships internationally from the US

The Medium Bucket Bag is a beautiful bag made from veggie tanned cognac and black leather with a pebbled texture, unlined with minimal design.

Made-to-order with love by hand, Tree Fairfax makes minimal leather goods that are long lasting and timeless.

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Shop Tree Fairfax.

Studio 189

Rated: Good

Cotton Shirt Dress – Ships internationally from the US

Made in Accra, Ghana, this cotton shirt dress is a perfect day-to-evening dress and can be worn belted to give an extra fitted shape.

Studio One Eighty Nine is a social enterprise that provides a platform to help promote and curate African Fashion.

At the time of writing, find the dress in US sizes XS-3XL.

See the rating.

Shop Studio 189.

Dive in deeper with these Black experts, authors, creators, and organisations

Below is a list of need-to-know Black activists, authors, and leaders, as well as a list of Black-focussed environmental justice organisations.

Need-to-know authors, activists, and creators

Mikaela Loach

According to her website, “Mikaela Loach is a climate justice activist, co-host of “The Yikes” Podcast, writer, and fifth-year medical student based in Edinburgh.”

Leah Thomas

Leah Thomas is an intersectional environmental activist and eco-communicator based in Southern California. 

Dorceta Taylor, Ph.D.

According to Yale’s website, “Dorceta E. Taylor is an environmental sociologist known for her work on both environmental justice and racism in the environmental movement. She is the Senior Associate Dean of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Yale School of the Environment, as well as a Professor of Environmental Justice.” 

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Ph.D.

According to her website, “Dr. Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist, policy expert, writer, and Brooklyn native. She is co-founder of the non-profit think tank Urban Ocean Lab, co-founder of the climate initiative The All We Can Save Project, and co-creator of the podcast How to Save a Planet.” 

Aja Barber

According to her website, “Aja Barber is a writer, stylist, and consultant whose work deals with the intersections of sustainability and the fashion landscape. Her work builds heavily on ideas behind privilege, wealth inequality, racism, feminism, colonialism, and how to fix the fashion industry with all these things in mind.”

Adrienne Hollis, Ph.D

According to her website, “Adrienne L. Hollis is the senior climate justice and health scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, where she leads the development, design, and implementation of methods for accessing and documenting the health impacts of climate change on communities of colour and other traditionally disenfranchised groups.” 

Hazel M. Johnson

Hazel M. Johnson was an environmental activist on the South Side of Chicago, Illinois. She is considered to be the mother of Environmental Justice. 

Betty Reid Soskin

According to the National Park Service website, “Betty Reid Soskin is an American retired ranger with the National Park Service, previously assigned to the Rosie the Riveter World War II Home Front National Historical Park in Richmond, California. Until her retirement on March 31, 2022, at age 100, she was the oldest National Park Ranger serving the United States.” 

Teresa Baker

According to her website, “Teresa Baker is founder of the African American National Park Event, which provides communities across the country with opportunities to participate in events that speak to culture, heritage, and lifestyle.”

Gloria Walton

According to her website, “Gloria Walton is an award-winning community organiser, writer, and speaker, and the CEO and president of The Solutions Project.” 

Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant

According to her website, “Dr. Rae Wynn-Grant is a wildlife ecologist with an expertise in uncovering how human activity influences carnivore behaviour and ecology.” 

Marjorie Alexander

Marjorie Alexander is the host and producer of the wonderfully captivating podcast A Sustainable Mind, where Alexander talks to the minds behind today’s most impactful environmental campaigns, organisations, and startups.

Black-focussed environmental justice organisations

Outdoor Afro

Outdoor Afro celebrates and inspires Black connections and leadership in nature. 

The Sunrise Movement

Sunrise Movement is an American 501(c)(4) political action organisation that advocates political action on climate change.

Intersectional Environmentalist

IE 501(c)(3) is a climate justice collective radically imagining a more equitable and diverse future of environmentalism.

The Or Foundation

The Or Foundation (pronounced “or”) stands for choice. Choice is agency –agency to escape the predominant violent socio-economic system of corporate colonialism and to change it from within.

Generation Green

Generation Green is an ecosystem that strives to foster an intergenerational network, community, and platform that fortifies the leadership of young people in the environmental liberation movement throughout the Global Black Diaspora.


GrowNYC’s mission is to improve New York City’s quality of life through environmental programs that transform communities block by block and empower all New Yorkers to secure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.

Climate Justice Alliance

The Climate Justice Alliance is a non-governmental collective of over 70 rural and urban community-based organisations focused on sustainability, development of underrepresented communities, race and ethnicity, economic development, and poverty alleviation.

Editor's note

Feature image via Sami Miro Vintage. Good On You publishes the world’s most comprehensive ratings of fashion brands’ impact on people, the planet, and animals. Use our directory to search thousands of rated brands.

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