The emphasis on supporting Black-owned businesses won't end when 2020 does. It's critical to continue supporting Black designers, creatives, and entrepreneurs in the years to come. One of the trailblazers in this space: Aurora James (the creator of The 15 Percent Pledge), who has called for large retailers like Sephora and Macy's, among other corporations, to make space for Black talent now and in the future.
For those who want to contribute in their own lives to this change, you can start by making sure the goods you buy come from Black-owned businesses. As for us fashion editors, we're diving into the world of handbags and the Black-owned brands to know in this space. There are so many talented and amazing designers out there—some you might have heard of, and others you should keep your eye on—so we rounded up a few of our favorites, with more to come, below. Make sure to bookmark this page and refer to it going forward, whether you're looking to treat yourself to something or buying a gift for a friend.
Sarep + Rose
Robin Sirleaf founded Sarep + Rose in honor of her Liberian roots. Everything in the line, from crossbody bags and fanny packs to footwear, are handcrafted in Liberia or Kenya. The artisans she employs use a mix of traditional handwoven textiles and traditional leather working skills to create every piece, making them unique finds.
These bags give us dreamy vacation vibes (for when traveling feels safe again). What's special about AAKS designs, which was founded by Ghanaian native Akosua in 2014, is that all the pieces are hand-woven by women in Ghana (it takes approximately one week to make a bag) using ecologically harvested raffia from family farmers in the area. The accessories are quickly gaining popularity as retailers from Anthropologie to Bloomingdales have started selling them.
Say the name "Bushwick Birkin" around a group of fashion lovers and they'll immediately know the brand. The now-iconic logo bags have been spotted on the arms of everyone, from your fellow creatives to in-demand social media influencers, and are constantly out of stock. (Telfar recently collaborated with UGG, and getting your hands on a bag was top priority.) Keep an eye on the brand as we head into 2021 because the demand for Telfar is just beginning.
London-based designer Joanna Vanderpuije has several fashion credits under her belt, having worked for the likes of Alexander McQueen, Jonathan Saunders, and Eley Kishimoto. She launched her namesake label in late 2017, dropping a variety of playful screenprinted RTW and accessories. Everything in her collection is either hand printed and/or painted, adhering to her ethos for slow fashion.
This brand offers sleek leather handbags that are designed in Brooklyn and constructed in the Garment District. According to the site, "moods, moments of nostalgia, and functionality introduces inspiration," behind the accessory designs. VAVVOUNE is doing its part in helping the earth, too, by donating workable scraps of leather to a list of art programs across the country.
You won't find fringe handbags like these anywhere else. Founder Jean-Baptiste created Petit Kouraj as a way to showcase "a love of knitwear, sculpture, and identity." The brand works with D.O.T Haiti, a women-lead organization who works closely with artisans to provide opportunities such as education and vocation training. Each bag is handmade using organic cotton net bags and 100 percent leather handles and rayon fringe.
These handmade crochet bags are easily recognizable on anyone's shoulders. They're made with 100 percent recycled jersey yarn and come in a multiple of colors. You can thank London-based knitwear designer Peju Obasa for these creations as she draws design inspo from her Nigerian roots, travels, and food.
Kintu New York
Launched in 2015, this label is known for its strong and durable 100 percent vegetable tanned leather goods. While the bags are designed in New York, they're made in Italy. Every bag looks sleek and polished—practically fit for a royal.
The label was launched in 2018 by Nigerian-born fashion designer Dolapo Deji-Torey with a focus on timeless designs and excellent craftsmanship. The accessories are best described as minimalistic, but with a luxurious aesthetic. To get your hands on a bag, you'll have to DM the brand directly.
Love, Cortnie Handbags
Fashion should be fun and that's exactly what this brand's accessories are about. Founder Cortnie learned to sew from her grandmother, taking three hours to make her very first clutch. From there, the rest was history. Cortnie started creating everything, from clutches and totes to waist bags and backpacks, and started selling her creations on Etsy. A business was born and the founder now offers a variety of bags (furry, fringe, animal print—you name it) up for grabs on her own website.
If you're looking for innovative handbags with a focus on sustainability, turn your attention to EDAS. We particularly love this bag with an adjustable wide buckle detail on the handle. Should you have room in your budget for more goodies, the label also offers an array of beautifully crafted jewelry and hats.
The brand launched in 2015 and has become well-known for its durags and mini crystal handbags known as the "blunt bag." (They come in so many colors, though our favorite is this one.) They're the perfect bag for those who prefer something on the smaller side and can easily take any daytime outfit to night. If you're wondering where exactly you can wear the bags to, the product description cheekily reads: "dinner date, on your ig, and to casually stunt."
Founded in 2011, Yvonne Koné strives to create bags that blend the minimalism of Danish design with a more colorful approach that serves as a nod to her African roots. In addition to her handbags, she offers footwear with a similar aesthetic so you can get all your accessories shopping done in one place.
Jamaican-Chinese designer Brandon Blackwood launched his first four-piece collection of leather handbags back in spring 2015 to much praise from fashion publications. Since the launch, the brand has grown to encompass a variety of contemporary bag creations. The bags come in every kind of design, from shearling to animal print, with many selections quickly selling out.