Dive into the slow fashion movement across brands, digital publications, and summits, and you’ll see that the faces taking over the space have been almost exclusively white women — yet, women of color have long been at the heart of the sustainable fashion movement. As Aja Barber so aptly states in a piece entitled, “Let’s Keep Our Movements Intersectional” written for Eco-Age,

“[One] thing that still bothers me is that the face of sustainability is too often white, thin, able bodied and affluent and I find that inherently wrong […] There is so much erasure of the folks who have always been more sustainable than most.  When I think of sustainability, I mostly always think of black and brown people. Particularly indigenous people.”

While it is encouraging to see the swell of activism around sustainable fabrics and more circular systems, there’s a bleak reality: that the fashion industry is built on an institutionalized form of racism, inherited from a colonial past.

When we focus on our movement as a human centered movement, powered by women of color globally, we can move beyond discussions of circularity and into the creation of jobs with dignity. Cat Chiang from Restitchstance writes,

“[Having] more people of color in the industry can help shift the narrative…to sustainable and ethical fashion as a way to empower and support communities of color.”

We couldn’t agree more. Find a curated list of sustainable brands and retailers founded and run by women of color below. Support and share on!

 

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AGAATI

Founder Saloni Shrestha has lived all over the world but has settled down in Los Angeles with her ethical fashion brand. Her travels have inspired her to think of the impact her pieces have on the environment and those who help to develop them. By working closely with artisans and designing responsibly, she has been able to design garments that you can only find at AGAATI.

 

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Brother Vellies

Based in New York City, founder Aurora James works transparently with artisans throughout Africa to create distinctive footwear that crosses cultures. Transparency is key here. Brother Vellies is an open book about their processes and aims to provide African styles while also supporting artisans through job security.

 

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Bourgeois Boheme

Alicia Lai founded her company in 2005 combining her professional background in podiatry and passion for veganism. Her cruelty-free footwear is both stylish and practical. Bourgeois Boheme is based in London, and Alicia and her team work with artisans in Peru to produce noteworthy shoes for men and women.

 

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Bhoomki

American born founder Swati Argade began her fashion career in South India. She was excited about handmade clothing she found while overseas and soon created her own collections. After some time Swati became committed to building a brand that put the planet first. Today, Bhoomki curates a variety of easy-wearing sustainable brands, helping New Yorkers and online shoppers find high-quality ethical finds.

 

 

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Naja

Co-founders Catalina Girald and Gina Rodriguez met by chance through an advertising project and bonded over their joint passions for female empowerment, body positivity, and giving back. Fast friends, the duo created the brand Naja to fulfill the market gap of eco-friendly intimates that provide opportunities to women makers globally.

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Galerie.LA

After huge success in celebrity styling – styling Black Eyed Peas, Lil Wayne and more – Dechel McKillian founded Los Angeles based retailer Galerie.LA to make a positive change in the industry. At her shop, you get a carefully curated selection of high quality essentials and funky add-ons, helping you shop your values.

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