At the risk of stating the obvious, large retailers have a large influence. Their audiences are massive, they have the ability to skyrocket brand awareness, and sell products in high volumes. The chance for a small business owner to get that exposure could change everything for an emerging brand. So when we started getting pitches from the likes of Nordstrom and Madewell about championing Black designers and store-owners for Black History Month, we wanted to be part of spreading the word. And this is the part where you and your buying power come in, lovely reader. Large retailers have entire teams dedicated to tracking how well items and brands sell. It informs their buyers’ future decisions about which brands to carry and what quantity to buy. Accordingly, if items like the ones featured in this story sell out like mad, you’re sending the message to these retailers to invest in Black designers and to do so beyond a designated cultural month. To put it simply, by shopping these picks, you can be part of changing the retail landscape to be more inclusive, and, of course, get some new awesome clothes in the mean time. Win-win.
Last year, Madewell committed to Aurora James’s 15% Pledge, which calls on large retailers to stock a minimum of 15% Black-owned brands. This Black History Month, Madewell highlighted some of James’s favorite brands that they stock, including Columbus, Ohio-based Lolly Lolly ceramics (heads up: they sell out lightning fast, otherwise we would have included them in this roundup) and Peak + Valley’s wellness blends.
This Black History Month, Depop is amplifying their Black sellers by highlighting their shops through the app and on social with the hashtag #BlackonDepop. In partnership with the Black in Fashion Council, Depop us also tapping fashion industry professionals like Lindsay Peoples Wagner and LaQaun Smith for a virtual content series on entrepreneurship and how to grow your business.
Forever 21 partnered with three artists on limited edition capsule collections. One of the artists, Stormy Nesbit, whose work was chosen to run in an essay by Kamala Harris, shared a bit about the collaboration: “Forever21 created a space for Black creatives like myself to really have a hands on approach from start-to-finish. F21 allowed me to be fully immersed, and to create from my heart, and present my most authentic self without any reservations.”
Nordstrom NYC will host a 2-month long pop-up called Black Founders, which will feature eight Black-owned companies, many of which are new to Nordstroms brand roster. The immersive space is designed to give shoppers a glimpse into the stories and people behind the brands. All the brands will also be shoppable online, for those outside the NYC area.