Supporting Black Queer Labels is En Vogue
And it always has been.
And it always has been.
Text: Dante Silva
Pride apparel has become somewhat distanced (read: completely severed) from Pride’s original aims. Stonewall was an upheaval of the status quo, one led by trans womxn of color, a subversion of existing command hierarchies. Nowadays, those same hierarchies persist, only appropriated through rainbow filtered lenses. One can’t help but wonder, what’s so subversive about a Pride themed sock?
The answer is, quite literally, not much. Still, there’s merit to the normalization of previously ‘outlandish’ sexualities, even as it comes wrapped around an ankle. And if proceeds of the purchase go towards actively supporting the queer community, all the better.
Here, we’ve compiled a few labels to support, ones which are actively working at the intersection of marginalized identities. Reclaiming Pride from its contemporary, corporatized connotations is no easy feat. Yet these individuals do so one collection at a time, paving the way for others to come.
A Tribe Called Queer
Founder Sabine Maxine notes “People need to support Black queer brands every single day, not just during Pride! Every. Single. Day.”
We wholeheartedly agree. Support Maxine here, knowing a portion of your purchase goes towards organizations such as Black Lives Matter and Project Q, the latter which provides a variety of services to homeless LGBT youth.
Stuzo’s founders, Uzo Ejikeme and Stoney Michelli Love, make products that “empower and remind our community that we are stronger together. That we are stronger than we know ourselves to be due to the systemic oppression of people that do not fit into the binary world that we have lived in.”
Their thoughts translate into action, as 95% of their hires are Black, queer, and/or non-binary.
Telfar, a unisex clothing brand established in 2005, regularly assists bail funds and decarceration efforts. That, and their bag is an iconic (and affordable) staple. Support Telfar here.
No Sesso means “no sex/gender” in Italian, fitting for a house which continually breaks down existing binaries. The brand, led by Pierre Davis, was the first transgender-owned line on the New York Fashion Week lineup, aiming to make space for other Black queer designers.
“There is work that needs to be done for our Black trans brothers and sisters, and we need to make sure we include queer identities when we say Black lives matter,” Davis said. “We need to feel safe in knowing our Black brothers and sisters stand with us and should be held accountable just as much as anyone else when it comes to the violence against Black trans bodies. Again, it needs to be known that ALL Black lives matter.”
Mack the Tailor
Destinee Macklin lives with CRPS, a debilitating condition, though that doesn’t stop her from designing bold patterns with kente cloth. “What you wear tells your story,” she writes on Instagram. “I just hope mine tells the story of someone fighting their toughest battle and surviving it.”
Harring is an FIT graduate with her own line of genderless fashion. Besides creating innovative products, she is also working on a study aiming to ease the transition of the fashion industry into gender fluid design. Support her work here.
Phlemuns is the creation of James Flemons, featuring an assortment of unisex apparel. His work has been adorned by the likes of Lizzo to Solange, gracing the covers of Nylon to TIME. Support Flemons here.
And, of course, remember these are only a select few of the many Black, queer designers to support. Incorporate their work into your everyday life, not just in June. And remember, this is all the minimum.