Like so many people, I spent the first week of June listening, learning, and taking a break from my usual Instagram posting in order to amplify the voices of people of color on social media. As someone who follows a lot of fashion bloggers and influencers, one of my big takeaways from the muted week was how I, and every person who loves fashion, can be more conscious of our purchasing choices and which brands we choose to support. Today, I wanted to share three simple methods that we can all start practicing to combat racism in the fashion industry.
1. Shop from brands/stores owned by people of color. You’ve probably been hearing about this a lot lately, as several major fashion magazines and newspapers have been releasing lists of Black-owned businesses to support. Some of the fashion-related lists I’ve been reading include Who What Wear’s, Vogue’s, and my favorite so far, Elle’s (I’ve discovered so many beautiful brands through this particular list!). Not surprisingly, since these are all fashion magazines that feature big designers, several of these Black-owned brands are high-end labels that are quite expensive—unfortunately, much too expensive for me (and likely for a lot of you, if you follow this budget-friendly blog). But that doesn’t mean we can’t still support these brands. Even if you can’t afford a store’s clothing but love the style, be sure to follow the brand on social media and like their content. Another way you can support these stores is to shop accessories, as jewelry and hair pieces can sometimes be less expensive than the clothing (but not always).
If you know of any clothing brands or boutiques that are owned by people of color and are affordable, please let me know! I would love to include them in this post, and I will continue my hunt for stores that more of us can financially support. One of the brands I discovered that I absolutely love is Cee Cee’s Closet NYC, where all of the pieces are handmade in Nigeria. The bold patterns and colors are absolutely gorgeous, and they have some really cool and unique silhouettes as well. Another brand is Andrea Iyamah, who makes the most beautiful statement swimsuits (among other pieces). Both of these brands are out of my usual price range, but they’re a lot more reasonable than some of the other companies on the fashion lists (And Cee Cee’s Closet NYC has some clothing pieces as low as $30!).
2. Follow and support influencers of color. While shopping from small, Black-owned businesses is a great way to show your support, there are also other, more affordable ways for fashion lovers to consciously use their love of fashion for good. One of these ways is to follow fashion bloggers and influencers of color! For a lot of fashion bloggers, their blogs are their jobs and livelihood—meaning they make their money through brand sponsorships, paid ads, and affiliate linking. Just like shopping from a Black-owned brand supports their business, following a Black influencer supports her personal business, too. So what does it mean to truly “support” influencers? Here are some action items:
- Follow their blogs and social media accounts. Oftentimes brands decide on which influencers to partner with based on how many followers the influencer has. Similarly…
- Like and comment on the influencer’s posts. Again, this shows brands that people are engaging with the influencer’s content, which can give her a better chance at landing brand partnerships. Not to mention, receiving heartfelt comments from your followers is the best feeling in the world!
- Shop their links! This is a big one, especially if the Black-owned brands in the lists above are too expensive for you. There are plenty of females of color on Instagram who focus on affordable fashion, which means they share affiliate links of cute and budget-friendly clothing that you and I can more easily afford. When we buy items through the links that they share, those fashion bloggers can receive a small commission (i.e. affiliate linking). So we can still shop the stores we love, but doing it through influencers’ links supports their personal businesses. It’s a win win.
This is my favorite tip because even if you have no money to spend right now, or aren’t interested in shopping, you can still support influencers of color simply by following them and thoughtfully engaging with their content. The Like to Know It Instagram account has been featuring lots of Black fashion bloggers recently, both in their feed and their Story highlights, so check that out if you need some new people to follow. I also recently discovered Ruthie Ridley and love her bubbly personality and flirty feminine style!
3. Be more conscious of what brands you’re already supporting. I admit that this is something I’ve never really considered before. When shopping for clothes, I usually just stick to what items are cute and whether or not I can afford them—not considering what the brand stands for. Here are some questions you can ask about the stores you already know and shop at frequently:
- Do these brands feature models of all skin colors on their social media platforms and websites? And did they feature models of color before the current protests started?
- Which influencers/bloggers are the brands reposting on Instagram? Are they diverse as well?
- Did the brand make a statement about the current protests/racial injustice, or did they keep posting on social media as if nothing was happening?
These are just some questions to consider the next time you go to purchase something from your favorite store, and they are things I have been researching about the companies I shop at (and therefore promote on this blog). I don’t view these questions as an all-or-nothing scenario, especially in this time where brands are striving to be better about diversity in the future, but these questions can help guide your decision-making to be more conscious of your future purchases.
I hope you found today’s post helpful! As you can see, there are so many different ways to be supportive of change in the fashion industry alone. Maybe one of these methods speaks to you, and maybe none of them do. Either way, each of our personal avenues of support look very different, and what matters is that we’re putting in the effort to be apart of the change. I also hope that you found this post to be thoughtfully written. As always, my comments are open if you have any thoughts or concerns.