10 Black-Owned Sneaker Brands To Obsess OverApr 29, 2023 10:00AM ● By Boitumelo Masihleho
The global sneaker market was valued at approximately $79 billion in 2020 and is predicted to reach $120 billion by 2026. With such tremendous growth, it is not that sneakers are considered big business.
Majorly popular sneaker brands like Nike, Adidas, New Balance, and Puma are not Black-owned, although they attract millions of Black customers worldwide.
There is a profound sneaker culture within the Black community, where tennis shoes and streetwear footwear are highly-coveted possessions. It’s time that Black-owned sneaker brands received the love and support from their community the same way that the usual juggernaut sneaker brands do.
Here is a list of 10 Black-owned sneaker brands you can support, and go get a pair or two.
Founded by Allyson Felix, the most decorated track and field athlete, Saysh is a community-centered lifestyle brand for and by women. In July 2019, she became Athleta’s first-ever sponsored athlete. This was the first time she felt seen as more than an athlete. But Athleta didn’t make racing spikes for Olympic sprinters. Alongside her brother, Wes, Allyson decided to find a brand. Their mission is to create a future in which inequality is undermined by female creativity and athleticism.
After countless attempts to craft a stylish and sustainable sneaker, co-founders Emmanuel Eribo & Philippe Homsy persevered with their vision of LØCI. LØCI makes sustainable shoes and aims to divert ocean plastics into usable materials. They save 20 plastic bottles for each pair of sneakers that is created. This ecologically friendly brand focuses on ocean preservation and praise-worthy quality goods. The sneakers are sleek and eco-friendly, like vegan leather, cork, and bamboo. But the brand’s ethos is arguably more impressive - 10 percent of every purchase is donated back to conservation programs that protect our seas, like Mission Blue and Sea Shepherd.
Proudly made in Kenya, Enda sneakers are the first Kenyan running shoes. Enda means “Go!” in Kiswahili, a language spoken in Eastern and Central Africa. The brand started in 2016, and since then, it has become a leader in running essentials, making all of its shoes and athletic apparel in Africa while supporting local Kenyan communities, ensuring fair labor for its workers, and reducing the brand’s carbon footprint. In addition to being a certified B-Corp business, it’s climate neutral certified and a primarily Black-owned business, with Kenyans making up most of the company’s shares.
Mpahla is a South African household story told through footwear & apparel. It is a proudly South African unisex, stylish sneaker & apparel brand founded in 2017. The birth of Mpahla came about from a story of two brothers that used to share or alternate sneakers with clothes. It is an affordable, unisex, stylish, comfortable sneaker line for an African child. In early 2016, they decided to start realizing their dream of owning their line; however, they didn’t follow through. Mid-2019, they decided to revert to the plan & started coming up with different designs.
Fini is a New York-based Ethiopian-American brand specializing in a broad range of footwear. The brand debuted in 2018 with an enthusiasm to introduce a luxury aesthetic while also allowing customers to express their individuality via detachable pieces. Fini products are lifestyle products engineered and designed for maximum comfort and durability without forgoing the luxury aesthetic. Their shoes are innovative multi-dimensional products that cater to all types of people and occasions from day to night, weekdays to weekends. Customers can switch out parts of a shoe to completely transform its look.
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David Raysse is the founder of this self-explanatory namesake brand. He was always a huge sneakerhead before even considering venturing into this business. He worked in the industry long before he created the brand, lending his mind and eye to several footwear labels. Raysse comes from a long line of creatives. Now David himself provides the market with creative, athletic footwear styles under Brandblack and allows customers to add a pop of life to their rotation.
The story of Drip Footwear dates back to 2003 when founder Lekau Sehoana had to make the most out of what he had, which sparked innovation and creativity. Growing up in an informal settlement, Lekau Sehoana had no shoes. He then saw an old torn sneaker and redesigned it using denim and polyurethane. This sneaker became a local hit, leading him to the shoe-making business. A few years later, Drip was born, and the rest is history. Drip in urban street culture means looking nice and having a high fashion sense. Their bold design, versatility, and collaborative culture make them stand out.
Fabrice Tardieu is a sneaker brand known for its hand-painted, “laid-back luxury” designs inspired by street cultures in cities like Miami, New York, London, and Paris. Since its inception in 2014, Fabrice Tardieu’s eponymous brand has broken social barriers by expressing creativity through positivity. Fabrice was born in Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and began his fashion career with Giorgio Armani in Paris. Each pair is created from personally-sourced materials and handmade in his Italian workshop, where some of the world’s most renowned designers have worked.
Bathu was started by Theo Baloyi in 2015. After months of conceptualizing, feasibility studies, and rejection by 13 different factories, the Mesh Edition Sneaker was born. Once in production, and having dealt with the rigorous 18-month processes of design, production, quality assurance, and financing related to the Mesh Edition, Theo founded the business - Bathu - meaning shoes in Kasi slang - and launched 100 pairs of Mesh Edition to the people of Alexandra, Soweto, Midrand, and Thembisa. Through his journey and in recognition of their successes, Theo & Bathu have been awarded, including 2019’s Most Influential Young South African in Business and Forbes Africa 30 under 30 in 2019.
Lifelong sneakerhead Brittney Perry grew up facing a market saturated by sneakers made for and by men. With few options marketed to women then, Brittney resorted to buying men’s sneakers but felt the need for something more inclusive. In 2018, Brittney launched PerryCo shoes to create a genderless sneaker that can appeal to all styles and identities. PerryCo is a brand that prides itself on being unisex, offering both footwear and accessories for all genders. The brand is known for breaking gender barriers and providing versatile, stylish options for all customers.
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Boitumelo Masihleho is a South African digital content creator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Rhodes University in Journalism and Media Studies and Politics and International Studies.
She's an experienced multimedia journalist who is committed to writing balanced, informative and interesting stories on a number of topics. Boitumelo has her own YouTube channel where she shares her love for affordable beauty and lifestyle content.
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