This week, the world has witnessed people across the globe come together to stand up against racism at a time when it is not only needed but also long overdue. While Vlad and I continue to educate ourselves on how we can be better allies personally, we also want to use our platform to showcase more Black-owned handbag brands for you. A 2016 study by economists at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research discovered that only 1% of black business owners get a bank loan during their first year as compared to 7% of white business owners. On top of that, Black businesses start out with far less capital than their white business counterparts (source). Starting a business and keeping it running is an expensive gamble, which is compounded if you start off having the cards stacked against you. While it seems small, purchasing directly from a small business has an immediate impact.
Following up on my last Black-Owned handbag brands to support, I've discovered and had readers reach out with additional brands to check out. Here is another list of really innovative, beautiful handbag brands from Black-owned designers. If you know of any others, please share in the comments below!
Ree Projects was founded by Amsterdam based designer Desiree Kleinen in 2016. In 2019, the brand launched globally. Kleinen was trained as a fashion designer and had over two decades of luxury experience at international fashion houses. There, she was able to hone in on her skills before she decided to start her own line. Her designs are distinctive, fusing architectural lines with functional elegance. All bags are developed in her Amsterdam based studio then handcrafted in Italy.
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TELFAR is a unisex line that was established in 2005 in NYC by Telfar Clemens, and it is now sold internationally. Clemens was born to native Liberian parents in Queens, New York, and at the age of five he moved back to Liberia with his mother and siblings. The family returned after the second Liberian Civil War and in 2002 Clemens moved to NYC to pursue a modeling career. But in 2003, Clemens began constructing and reconstructing vintage clothes which he sold in NYC boutiques. From there he launched his line in 2004 to much success. If you want a bag from Telfar, good luck - majority are sold out. There are a few at Farfetch though.
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Founded in 2015 by Betu Kumesu, this handbag brand is based in Nigeria. Creative director and founder Betu Kumesu discovered the expansive leather industry in Nigeria after relocating to Lagos. Every year, luxury French and Italian fashion houses dispose of unused leather, of which a large portion is shipped back to Nigeria. The bags of Kumesu are created with sustainability in mind. Right now, many are sold out, but check the website for current offerings.
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Matthew Harris of Mateo New York was born in Montego Bay, Jamaica, before arriving to the US at the age of 16 for college. He found his passion in Jewelry making, which is still his focus. However, he released a line of bags which mirror their modern take to his jewelry lines. There aren't many bag styles offered (and a few are sold out), but the ones he has are clean and beautiful. Plus, right now use code: NewBag for 30% off at checkout.
Founded in 2017 by husband and wife duo Carlos Tirado and Kenia Martinez, the handbags of Escapade bags were inspired by the couple's travels around the world. At first, the pair created bags for themselves and their family and friends, but that side project became their passion. Each bag is handcrafted by different skilled artisans in Spain.
Shop all collections here
Designer Towana Phillip launched her label To’sha and quickly became known for combining color, style, and intricate leather work into her designs. Each season, the brand focuses on incorporating new design techniques from hand cut, molded, painted and stitched leather to appliqués. The end results are masterpieces that are as much art as they are handbags.
EDAS mixes innovation and sustainability to re-use home goods and refurbish elements to create a line of accessories including bags and jewelry. Head designer, Sade Mims, uses her background and passion in design, creative direction, producing, event planning, and writing to create each design. Due to COVID, many items are sold out, but bookmark the page for when they are able to restock.
Shop the bags here
Founded by fashion stylist, Nasrin Jean-Baptiste, PETIT KOURAJ is built on Jean-Baptiste's desire to create something meaningful. After a trip to her native Haiti in 2018, Petit Kouraj was born. Though based in Brooklyn, each bag is handmade in Haiti and the pieces are truly unique. They meld knitwear and sculpture into pieces of wearable art.