In the words of Maya Angelou, “When you know better, you do better.” Recent calls for change, including Aurora James 15 Percent Pledge, is challenging us to reevaluate our spending, be better consumers, and support a more diverse range of designers. It’s time to step up to the plate, and you can do it in a pair of really great shoes. From sustainable business models to redefining the “nude” shoe, here are 35 Black-owned footwear brands you should be paying attention to.
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Meet your next everyday shoe. Inspired by traditional Sudanese footwear, Barkal offers a modern take on the classic design. Made of the softest, buttery leather, its flats will help you pound the pavement in comfort.
Amina Abdul Jillil
What happens when a dancer who shared the stage with Janet Jackson and Brittney Spears creates a shoe line? Meet Aminah Abdul-Jillil, who launhed her namesake label in August 2012. This feminine brand offers the prettiest heels to spice up your life. Her motto, “try something different,” resonates loudly with each shoe.
Agnes Bethel Shoes
Rooted in the goals of offering craftsmanship, proper fit, and functionality, this husband and wife team created Agnes Bethel to fill a void in the footwear game. Their bold designs stand out amongst the rest.
Becki Coakley Shoes
Becki Coackley Shoes aims to uplift, strengthen, and encourage women through footwear. As a mom of three, Coackley’s line pays homage to her mom, who inspired her to pursue her dreams of being a shoe designer. Her designs are impeccably made of the quality materials by Italian artisans.
Newly launched brand BYDOSE is keeping it simple and offering chic, minimal footwear that you’ll never want to let go of. These luxury shoes are just as beautiful on your feet as they are off.
From Africa with love, Brother Vellies is the powerhouse brand founded by Aurora James in 2013. From vegetable tanned leathers, soiling from recycled tires, to floral dyed feathers, the hyper-sustainable label honors the artisans who craft its shoes (plus bags, small leather goods, and socks too).
Handcrafted in Italy, Chelsea Paris is created out of inspiration from the designer’s African heritage. Recently her shoes were seen down the runways of Bibhu Mohaptra’s SS20 collection.
Comfortable, cozy, and fashionable. What we all need right now are these luxurious furry slides crafted by the talented Duckie Confetti. A designer and tastemaker, Confetti specializes in cozy slippers, all under $100. You’ll definitely feel like somebody important walking around in his styles.
Eleanor Anukam Footwear
Born in Texas but raised in Nigeria, Eleanor Anukam sought to create shoes for the underrepresented population of women with shoe sizes larger than a 10. Eleanor Anukam Footwear was born, offering luxury designs that are sexy, modern, and feminine for women sizes 9-13.
We all know that Rihanna has the Midas touch. From lingerie, makeup, to her luxury clothing line, there is nothing that she can’t do that is not a major success, shoes included. If these stilettos don’t evoke Rihanna energy, I don’t know what else does.
Who said comfort had to be boring? FETE-ish offers the cutest sandals with a unique appeal. From colorful, minimal straps to cute leather flowers and butterflies, these sandals are sure to be a conversation starter.
Heron Preston wears many hats– he’s a designer, DJ, art director and a collaborator who sources inspiration from sustainable products and technology. He founded his eponymous label in 2016 and it soared like a rocket, creating shoes that continues to push boundaries.
I Am Jennifer Le
You’ve seen Jennifer Le’s designs on your favorite MCs like Megan Thee Stallion and the City Girls, to R&B songstresses like Kandi and Queen Naija. Her designs focus on blurring the lines between streetwear and runway, citing that “around the way girls love high fashion too.”
Jessica Rich’s brand is another celeb favorite, seen on Jennifer Lopez, Cardi B, and Saweetie, just to name a few. Rich’s heels primarily incorporate the use of PVC. She debuted her “Transparent” line in 2017 in response to her customer’s ongoing love of the material.
Founder and CEO, Jessica Perdomo believes that “everyone deserves to have a pair of shoes on their feet that feels good to wear and makes them feel good too.” Each pair offers a classic and timeless approach to footwear design.
Who knew that a pineapple could have so many uses? Founder of Jo-Anne Vernay, Dyandra Raye, created unique shoes using one our favorite summertime fruits. It goes to show that the boundaries of luxury vegan footwear are limitless. Each shoe is made of pineapple leaf fibers, along with other sustainable materials like organic cotton.
Kahmune’s mission is for all women to have nude shoes that embrace true diversity, not just one skin tone. Motivated by the lack of nudes for darker skin tones, designer, Jamela A. Acheampong created Kahmune. The brand offers ten shades with names like Goa, Rio, Kumasi, Douala, and Juba, and offers makeup matches to help you pick your right shade. Personalization at its best!
Kendall Miles Designs
Launched in 2015, Chicago native Kendall Miles partners with family-owned factories in Italy to offer shoes that are put comfort first. Her luxury stilettos come with the bonus of double-padded leather insoles.
Designer and artistic director Keya Martin seeks to represent dynamic women with an eclectic sensibility. Wearing a pair of Keeyahri shoes will certainly get noticed, as each pair is crafted with sculptural heels, hand-applied feathers, and more statement-making details.
Proudly made in Nigeria, these beautifully made slippers and sandals are designed to champion local crafters. While you may not be able to currently walk down the glorious streets of Nigeria, you can connect with its spirit in these printed sandals.
Designer Mauryn Kkira wants you to have ‘Happy Feet” with her colorful footwear. Originally from Uganda, Kkira brings you bold designs that mixes textures, allowing you to express how you feel.
Born in Brazil and raised between Côte d’lvoire and the US, Loza Maléombho has been designing since the age of 13. Sourcing inspiration from Ivorian tribal traditions and modern fashion, these jewelry-adorned shoes are beyond cool.
As a British designer with African heritage, Merah Vodianova is all about bringing you a minimal aesthetic by focusing on clean lines. Her daring label is favored by Kim and Kourtney Kardashian, Bella Hadid and Emily Ratajakowski. Since debuting her line in 2017, her chic heels are one to watch (and wear).
Virgil Abloh is not only a designer, but an innovator. rom his humble beginnings in Chicago, Abloh has broken boundaries with his label Off-White and made the most “unique” shoes.
Brittaney Perry grew up with a love for sneakers, but was overwhelmed by an oversaturated market made by and created for men. Determined to shatter the glass ceiling, PerryCo changes the scope of sneakers as a unisex label that breaks gender barriers.
Pyer Moss was founded in 2013 by Kerby Jean-Raymond, who humbly describes his brand as an “art project.” Through Pyer Moss we can connect to the soul of the Jean-Raymond, who puts thought and emotion into his designs. In 2018 he launched his highly celebrated collaboration, “Reebok by Pyer Moss” as an ongoing partnership that continues to push the culture forward.
While working in finance, Rebecca couldn’t find shoes in her perfect skin tone shade, which pushed her to launch her initial collection of five nude shades in three different styles. Each shoe is made in Brazil in small batches that offer quality and practicality. Her brand leads with the idea of helping “you walk into every situation in life with confidence.”
Res Ipsa Loquitur is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself.” Started by two former lawyers who felt that the world needed fewer attorneys and better shoes, Each pair of shoes sources materials from upcylced kilims to vintage Levi’s.
Salone Monet made her first pair of shoes in Brooklyn, believing that every women should experience what wearing a true nude heel does for your legs. With six shades in two different styles, you’re sure to meet your match.
Handmade in Lagos, Nigeria, Shekudo uses local leather and traditional Aso Oke/Akwete cloth for its shoe uppers. As a champion for sisterhood, women’s empowerment, and being socially responsible, these are thoughtful shoes for your soul.
The Proper Label™
Less is more with The Proper Label. This line offers durable essentials with their low and high-top sneakers (plus some great tees and hoodies to match), all made sustainably,. The Proper Label believes you should have only quality pieces that last forever.
“Within every woman, lies a diamond– unique, resilient and imperfectly perfect.” That’s the ethos behind Titi Adesa, and also the reason behind that brand’s tilted diamond logo. Founded in 2019 by Titi Adesanya, the brand also created the TA foundation to empower and mentor young girls with aspirations of being fashion designers.
Very Lovely Soles Footwear
Very Lovely Soles Footwear always wants you to have comfortable, timeless shoes. Made of buttery soft leather and hidden layers of extra foam cushions, each pair offers maximum support for all day wear. A veteran of Nine West shoes, founder Vanessa L. Seide sought out to make truly comfy flats. Mission accomplished,
Launched in 2011 with a flagship boutique in Copenhagen, Yvonne Koné’s fuses the minimalism of Danish design with the Ivory Coast’s vibrant linage. Each of her shoes are handcrafted in natural colors, textures, and forms, and sourced from sustainable materials.
One thing that Katherine Theobalds, founder and creative director of Zou Xou, loves is a a pair of “good, sensible shoes.” So she made just that.
Kia Goosby is a Fashion Editor for Hearst Fashion Group, who forever loves Atlanta, R&B music, believes butter with a side of bread makes everything better, and just so happens to cover all things in fashion for her main 9 to 5.
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