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The Tufts Daily
Where you read it first | Friday, February 23, 2024

Brands who deserve our dollars: Naclo Apparel and Aliya Wanek

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As temperatures start to drop and the leaves begin to turn, it is time to break out your fall wardrobe and, perhaps, look for some new additions for your closet. If this is the case, here are some fashionable fall options from Black-owned clothing brands.

The apparel industry is largely directed by us consumers, so if we use our voices — in other words, our dollars — we can push for the changes we want to see in an industry that has historically not given deserved attention to Black designers. A Stanford University study found that Black business owners had less access to capital when compared to white business owners.  While it is clear that work needs to be done to combat unequal access to capital on an institutional level, this conclusion also highlights that consumers must make conscious efforts to support Black-owned businesses so that they can survive without the same help from investors and banks. 

The first brand to bring to your attention is Naclo Apparel, which is the work of Jamie Williams and Charles Royals. The partners both left behind their respective homes in Brooklyn and Los Angeles to return to their families in North Carolina due to COVID-19. Seemingly bored in quarantine, Williams and Royals found a creative outlet using bleach processing on various articles in clothing. One thing led to another and, as their website states, “the brand has blossomed into a growing community of diversity and an expanded product offering.” Some of my personal favorite offerings from the brand are the colorful biker short sets, which cost $45. Also, just in time for the fall, their bleached flannel button-downs, priced at $45, offer a great way to wear the classic plaid, but make it a bit more unique with the bleaching detail. 

The other brand highlighted this week is Aliya Wanek, a womenswear label founded in 2016. When describing the brand’s mission, founder Aliya writes that, “It’s important for me to represent women of color in my work, especially black women as we are often viewed outside the standard of beauty.” She notes that sustainability is also a core part of the brand’s identity, shown by the brand's employing natural fibers, living wages and zero waste packaging. Regarding production of the garments, Aliya sews many of the garments herself and also working with two small factories and contractors local to the San Francisco Bay Area. Pieces from the brand that would be perfect for the fall are its light-weight, loose-fitting Aruna Jacket and its wide color range of sweatshirts that are perfect for layering. 

Each brand can be pricey and clearly not in everyone's budget, but they are worth supporting if doing so is within your ability. Even with this support, it is just a small drop in the huge bucket of steps that we all need to take to help our society. This author hopes that you'll consider the brands mentioned here and also educate yourself on other steps that you can take to support minority groups in your community and across the country.