As the Black Lives Matter movement continues to grow, people across the globe are looking for ways to help fight inequality.
As well as educating ourselves about systemic racism and white privilege, we can support the black community by buying items from black-owned brands that don’t always get the recognition they deserve.
Instagram accounts such as Irish Black Owned and Black and Irish are working hard to highlight some of the homegrown talent within the black Irish community by shining the spotlight on burgeoning entrepreneurs whether it be in fashion, beauty, technology, food, photography, or art.
Today, we're taking a look at just some of the black-owned fashion brands growing in Ireland.
In 2018, blogger and content creator Florence Olufemi-Ojo started her fashion brand M.I.O Prints (an abbreviation of Moulded-Inside-Out).
Having found a gap in the Afro-Irish Market, and having embraced the natural hair movement herself, Florence began creating satin har bonnets using African prints popularly known as Ankara and Kente.
"The ethos of my business is to create a social movement and build a community that celebrates the beauty and artistic patterns of the African prints," says Florence.
Using materials sourced from Nigeria, the Dublin-based fashion brand is now selling 'Ankara Satin' pyjama sets, head wraps, hair bonnets, robes, aprons and accessories online.
Founded by NUIG students Liswa McDonald and China Soribe, Umoja Production is home to "a collective of African inspired designers" from around the world, whose aim is to share and promote African culture and art through a diverse range of products at affordable prices.
"One of the most fascinating things about African print is how much it differs from one region to the next. Although these designers all originate from the one motherland, we always find it astonishing that they can produce such diverse and distinct pieces," says China.
This Afro-centric brand has eye-catching t-shirts, jumpers and jackets - for both men and women - as well as a colourful collection of earrings.
In 2012, Thaís Muniz started creating head wraps in Salvador de Bahia, Brazil. While studying the history of the headwear, she began to research Afro-Atlantic culture so as to offer both a product and a service to the Afro-Atlantic diaspora.
Speaking on the ethos of the brand, Thaís said that her work is about "empowering people of color, especially girls and women, with our own history, aesthetics, and economically as well. Building bridges to open conversations on social and political topics via talks, workshops, performances, experiments in art and design. It´s also a brand of scarves and a machine of printed dreams and possibilities."
Having moved to Dublin in 2014, Muniz has continued to create products in Brazil, Ireland, and Sierra Leone - all while sourcing materials from around the world - with the overall goal of sharing her research, recording stories, and spreading colour through her beautiful headwraps.
Emerald and Wax
As a self-taught designer, crafter and maker, Virtue Shine has spent her life surrounded by colour.
Inspired by a childhood spent sitting on her grandmother's lap at her wholesale African fabric warehouse in Accra, Ghana, as well as being raised in New York, surrounded by architecture and designs from around the world, this fashion-lover hopes to bring the colour of traditional wax prints to classic European design.
Now living on the Wild Atlantic Way in Galway, the mother of four spends her time creating "wearable art" for women in a sustainable way: "I attempt to work with an eye towards sustainability whether that be in re-using fabric or limiting packaging," she says.
Originally from Angola and currently living in Co. Dublin, Abdel Afonso founded Highly Recommended in 2017. Building his brand with a sense of community at the forefront, the 23-year-old designs his pieces digitally and has them manufactured abroad, but focuses on working within the Irish community to promote the brand.
"A major thing about this brand is that it doesn't just focus on clothing, we’ve done charity work, work with universities, pop-up shops, and dance competitions," says Abdel.
From face masks and kid's t-shirts to trench coats and crop tops, these garments are targeted at people of all ages.