• Truus Yperman

SIX BLACK-OWNED FASHION BRANDS TO ADD TO YOUR ALL-TIME FAVOURITES – FROM BRUSSELS WITH LOVE.

As a reaction to recent events of systemic police brutality, discrimination, and racism against Black Americans, a lot of American black-owned fashion brands are being put into the spotlight right now. It was about time!


But Black and Brown talent is everywhere. That is why I’m sharing my list (by no means complete) of Black-owned fashion labels from Belgium and Europe (and one from Africa) that you should have on your radar. Let’s give them the LOVE they deserve, people!!!



Since last week’s collective #blackouttuesday, I have spent countless hours on Instagram. Actually, that’s nothing out of the ordinary in itself 😊, but this time it was different. I haven’t been posting much, or liking and commenting.


Instead, I have been scrolling through thousands of my ‘saved items’. Meticulous organizer (read ‘control freak’ 😊) as I am, I've created lists to easily find back all my favourite brands, designers, and artists. And I was curious to find out how many of them are Black or Black-owned.


Well, my friends, talk about an eye opener! I am sad to report my ‘favourites’ are undeniably and overwhelmingly white, with just a few exceptions. And I suspect it’s not just me. I mean, can you name ten Black fashion designers to me, right now, from the top of your head?


Euuuuuugh, Rihanna? Yes, my dears, Rihanna is not just an amazing music artist. She is also the founder of the bold fashion label Fenty, and playful lingerie label Savage x Fenty (with its spectacular, inclusive, and body-positive catwalk shows).


Ok, any other names, anyone?


And how many white fashion designers can you name?


Right, I rest my case.


So, I think the least I can do, is to pay tribute to those amazing Black and Brown designers, artists, and brand owners that did feature amongst my favourites on Instagram. A bit of extra spotlight is hardly overdoing it.


Of course, many lifestyle magazines have been putting out names of international Black design stars you should have on your radar, and there is little point in duplicating them. But my list is different.


How?


Firstly, I’ve focused on local talent, close to home (Belgium and Europe that is), because we have some amazing Black and Brown talent right around the corner.


Secondly, my list is different because it’s mine. I’m not just sharing some names I came across, but the brands I've actually been following for a while. If you like my style, you will love them too.


So, this is my list of six spectacular black-owned fashion brands that you must add to your favourites list.



1. ODILE JACOBS

  • Designer: Odile Jacobs

  • Location: Bruges, Belgium

  • Designs for: women

  • Signature style: African wax meets European silhouettes

  • Price for a dress: 490€, but at least you can be sure that an ‘Odile Jacobs’ never goes out of style

  • Where to buy: online webshop, or occasionally in pop-up stores in Brussels, Knokke and Paris.

Is this African tradition with a dash of “C’est du Belge”, or the other way round? I’ll leave it up to you to judge.


Fact is, Odile Jacobs is a Belgian designer with Congolese roots. She was born in Uccle (Brussels), and now runs her slow-fashion, limited-edition label from my home town, Bruges.


Known as ‘the Diva of Wax’, Odile’s inspiration comes from the fabric itself. Wax is a dying technique used on pressed cotton. It was developed a 150 years ago by a Dutch company looking for export markets in the West Indies. Instead, it caught on in Africa, when the technique became popular to dye fabrics with the traditional colours, patterns and prints of local African communities. Odile carefully selects these exquisite, traditional fabrics to create powerful statement pieces with lots of character.


But her magic is about more than wax. She takes this colourful African tradition to the next level by fusing it with sober, voluminous, European silhouettes. Her creations have a good touch of ‘belgitude’ full of refreshing contrasts. They are bold yet stylish, eclectic yet simple, and contemporary yet timeless.


She is truly unique!


2. MOSAERT

  • Designer - Founder: Coralie Barbier and Paul van Haver

  • Design for: men and women (unisex)

  • Location: Brussels, Belgium

  • Signature style: eclectic, retro, artistic, whimsical, ‘belgitude’

  • Price for a pull-over: 70€

  • Where to buy: online webshop

How could I not mention Mosaert? It is one of the most remarkable Belgian brands of unisex clothing (and unique homeware items).


And of course, we all know that the label was masterminded by Paul van Haver, aka Stromae, Belgian singer-songwriter-composer, born in Brussels to a Belgian mother and a Rwandan father.


Fun fact: you may notice the brand name ‘Mosaert’ is simply a reshuffle of the stage name ‘Stromae’, which in turn is a reshuffle of the word ‘maestro’ (the things I know...).


Together with Coralie Barbier, his wife, Stromae creates unconventional, small capsule collections drawing from an eclectic range of inspiration, such as English school uniforms, geometric patterns, African Dutch wax, Japanese fabrics, and quintessential Belgian art movements.


Mosaert also leads the way as a slow-fashion brand, producing exclusively in Europe and in limited quantities. And capsule collections don’t ‘expire’ at the end of the season. Ah, how refreshing!


As I said, remarkable, in every way!


3. LISOU

  • Designer: Rene Macdonald

  • Location: London

  • Designs for: women

  • Signature style: Silk, silk and some more silk!

  • Price for a dress: between 450€ and 850€ (That is why I don’t have one yet😊)

  • Where to buy: online webshop

Lisou is a London-based womenswear 'it' brand and celeb fave.


But that is not reason why I am including this label in my list. Lisou simply makes me happy. It's bold and playful, but also perfectly wearable and elegant. It’s London statement fashion the way I love it, but with an bold African and vintage twist.


Rene Macdonald, Lisou’s head designer, lives in the UK, but grew up in Tanzania. She looks to Africa for inspiration, designs her own prints, and uses some of the finest silks.


You will love it!


4. SOPHIE DEH

  • Designer: Sophie Deh

  • Location: Paris

  • Designs for: women

  • Signature style: African wax prints meets urban French cuts

  • Price for a skirt: 90€ (and trust me, that’s a lot of worth for your money)

  • Where to buy: online webshop

I came across Sophie Deh on Instagram (no surprises there😊) a while ago, and I immediately fell for her vibrant, feminine, and playful style. Turns out she has launched her own womenswear line in 2016, after a career as fashion buyer. A young woman with African roots herself, she “wants to dress every woman in wax everyday”.


You could argue that her concept is similar to Odile Jacobs, but the silhouettes (and price tag) are very different. Odile Jacobs is timeless and sophisticated (a slower concept), while Sophie Deh is trendy and urban (a faster concept).


I love them both, each in their own way!


5. WALES BONNER

  • Designer: Grace Wales Bonner

  • Location: London

  • Designs for: men, but now also women

  • Signature style: a political statement with the perfect cut

  • Price for a t-shirt: 200€, so don’t say I didn’t warn you. But it will fit like a glove😊.

  • Where to buy: online webshop

Grace Wales Bonner is a need-to-know British-Jamaican fashion designer. In 2014, she launched her menswear label, and now she is also venturing into womenswear.


In her designs, Grace explores notions of race, identity, and black culture. She plays around with multiple references to her Caribbean and African heritage such as Rastafarian-striped pants, Haile Selassie-like tail suits, and bone beading. Mix this with sharp cuts and perfect tailoring and you have her signature style.


In 2019, in a special edition of Vogue's "Go Ask Anna", Rihanna asked Anna Wintour who were the new, young designers she was excited about right now. Anna’s answer: Grace Wales Bonner (amongst others)! I think it is safe to say we haven’t seen the last of Grace Bonner Wales yet.


Check out her instagram account @walesbonner to instantly get a sense of her strong and powerful message!


6. DIARRABLU

  • Founder: Diarra Bousso

  • Location: Dakar, Senegal (a little less close to home this one…)

  • Designs for: women

  • Signature style: bold, graphic, African prints on feminine, flowy, adjustable garments

  • Price for a dress: 170€

  • Where to buy: online web shop

Diarrablu is one of those brands that will leave you speechless for a second. It’s a joyful celebration of the African continent’s rich colors, bold prints, and unique patterns.

The brand was founded by Diarra Bousso, born in Dakar, Senegal. She's quite something! She started out her career on Wall Street, built a global fashion business, and turned mathematician. And that, my friends, is the secret behind her iconic prints: she uses mathematical equations to make every design a statement piece. Who ever knew maths could be this useful, right?


But it’s not just the prints. Diarrablu is a great fit on anyone, because the flowy wrap dresses, tunics and kimonos can easily adjust to any size. These cuts are a pure delight, trust me!


THE LIST GOES ON

Voilà, I said I would stop at six, so that’s it for now. Obviously, even if I would go on forever, I would still not manage to cover every deserving Black or Brown designer. So feel free to add your favourites in the comments.


And in case you are still wondering if all of this is really necessary, Banksy (the famous anonymous graffiti artist) wrote this on Instagram the other day:

"At first I thought I should just shut up and listen to black people about this issue. But why would I do that? It’s not their problem, it’s mine.
People of colour are being failed by the system. The white system. Like a broken pipe flooding the apartment of the people living downstairs. The faulty system is making their life a misery, but it’s not their job to fix it. They can’t, no one will let them in the apartment upstairs.
This is a white problem. And if white people don’t fix it, someone will have to come upstairs and kick the door in."


WHO AM I?

I am a confidently feminine woman, living in Brussels with my husband and two children. I coach men and women from my Brussels and expat network on matters of style and lifestyle.

My APPROACH is unique because I like to mix personal style with home style and lifestyle. You see, playing around with diverse style choices, is a really fun way of exploring and empowering the different sides of yourself.

I also love to bring people together, because I am all about ENJOYING THE PROCESS. Life is serious enough as it is. When you share your style and lifestyle journey with others and make new friends, that’s when the fun begins!

My STYLE PHILOSOPHY is simple: for me, style is a matter of good taste, not money, design labels or ‘it’ bags. I am not inspired by fast trends, blind copy-pasting, or bland uniformity. Instead, I like truly authentic style with lots of personality!

Follow me on my instagram account for more style and lifestyle tips, or check out my website to sign up for your free initital coaching session.

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