It’s been over two weeks since the
15 Percent Pledge
hit Canada, and we’re still waiting for the country’s major retailers to come on board and commit to,
at a minimum
, giving more shelf space to BIPOC-owned brands (
so far, Hudson’s Bay and Indigo have started talking with Pledge organizers
In the meantime, we can all uplift and support BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Colour) designers by buying their products and sharing their stories. “You can also personally take the pledge,” says
Mosha Lundström Halbert
, co-founder of outerwear brand Therma Kōta, who is spearheading the 15 Percent Pledge initiative in Canada alongside its founder
. “Look at your own discretionary spending, and try to allocate more of that personally and directly to BIPOC brands.”
Start by putting these 15 amazing BIPOC-owned fashion and accessories brands on your radar, and their products into your shopping carts.
At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. All product details reflect the price and availability at the time of publication. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.
Toronto native Aurora James, creator of the
15 Percent Pledge, launched Brother Vellies in 2013 as a footwear line celebrating traditional African designs and craftsmanship. Since then, the CAFA and CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award-winning label has expanded and evolved to include handbags, small leather goods, and other accessories ethically made across the globe.
Vancouverite Myla Davey launched Cherry Gardens in 2018; the athleisure-inspired, minimalist loungewear line is designed and made in Toronto. Expect to find low-maintenance, high-comfort separates you can feel good in. Think: high-cut undies, cropped tanks, and bike shorts in classic hues.
Helmed by Hong Kong-born, Vancouver-raised designer Aileen Lee, this slow-fashion label’s pensive designs are perfect for lounging in at home (or walking through a field of flowers, but only when the light is right). The small-batch line mostly uses natural and plant-based fabrics, and products are made in Vancouver by tailors, artists, and graduates of the non-profit
Accessories designer Warren Steven Scott, whose work is carried in a number of art gallery and museum shops across Canada, is best known for his acrylic and sterling silver earrings. A member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, Scott incorporates beautiful shapes such as ovoids and feathers into his lightweight, modern designs. This past spring, he collaborated with
Toronto handbag brand Opelle on a limited-edition collection of sculptural leather bags featuring sheer acrylic handles and hardware.
There aren’t many fashion labels that will offer
free mending sessions or run a second-hand marketplace for older designs, but sustainability and community are both important to designer Sarra Tang. Hoi Bo, her Toronto-based apparel and accessories brand, offers timeless pieces like 3D-knit bags and breezy summer dresses — all locally made using sturdy, natural materials like linen and leather.
Wishing for a pair of chic designer heels that you can comfortably wear for hours? Head to the Zvelle website. Iranian-born, Toronto-based designer Elle AyoubZadeh specializes in unique, delicate suede, and leather footwear designs with timeless appeal. P.S. Don’t sleep on the brand’s luxurious made-in-Italy totes, introduced last fall.
A women’s ready-to-wear label by designer Habi Gerba, Gazelles offers made-in-Montreal, tailored separates that are both elegant and versatile. The designer’s favourite piece from her latest collection? The dramatic, draped-silk
Chantal blouse that looks as great with jeans as it does with a pencil skirt.
Interesting textures and simple, arresting cuts are features of Vancouver’s Priory label, headed by
Eunice Quan and made locally. This well-respected women’s ready-to-wear line is carried internationally by fashionable retailers from Japan to Portland, OR.
big fans of womenswear designer Lesley Hampton, whose stunning runway collections are inspired by complex topics like indigeneity and identity, and mental health. The Newfoundland-born Indigenous designer is known for her intricate, statement-making dresses and eveningwear, which are designed with size inclusivity and body positivity in mind.
Love handcrafted, one-of-a-kind jewelry? You’ll want to check out Métis designer Emma Love-Cabana’s beautiful beaded earrings. Each Three Sisters by Emma design is made by Love-Cabana herself, and the vibrant colours are inspired by where she’s lived. FYI: there are both made-to-order styles and ready-to-ship earrings available online.
Omi Woods, founded by Ashley Alexis McFarlane, offers eye-catching jewelry made with conflict-free fine metals and fair-trade gold sourced from small-scale mines in Africa. Featuring meaningful symbols such as Egyptian cartouches and the Ethiopian Coptic cross, this is statement jewelry that’s designed to become modern heirlooms.
Tahnee Lloyd-Smith launched Pretty Denim in 2018 with a fun 14-piece capsule collection featuring denim separates embellished with fringe and sequins. Her second capsule, new for 2020, features decidedly more streamlined, unadorned silhouettes in a neutral black, white, and khaki palette. We love that the small-batch line is produced in Canada using cotton from North American mills.
Vietnamese and French-Canadian designer Caroline Pham makes every piece of Ora-C jewelry by hand in her Montreal atelier. Each piece is intended to be “wearable artwork,” and each collection tells a visual story using mixed materials and vibrant colour combinations. Custom ring sizes and made-to-order designs are also available.
Dreamy, tailored clothes for looking like a boss. It’s not surprising that Calgary-based designer Nina Kharey’s CAFA-nominated collection counts
Meghan Markle, Chantal Kreviazuk, and Sophie Gregoire-Trudeau amongst its fans. A Nonie signature piece? A great trench coat that you’ll want to wear forever.
Twin brothers (and founders of the Want Les Essentiels fashion label) Byron and Dexter Peart introduced Goodee, a curated online marketplace and sustainable home goods and accessories line, last year. Goodee is a
Certified B-Corp company that also donates 1% of every sale to an Earth-friendly cause. Beyond being thoughtfully designed and well-crafted, Goodee’s inventory is ethically produced and often supports multiple causes — the sturdy Bassi Market Tote, for example, is made by refugees in Italy and features handwoven cotton fabric sourced from Burkina Faso.
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