As with most markets, the world of sneakers has long been dominated by white men. Nike, Puma, Adidas, Reebok—big-name brands like these are a surefire staple for athletic apparel and performance footwear—however, they've long overshadowed most of the smaller players, especially those founded by BIPOC.
Next time you're in the market for some fresh, new kicks, opt for something more inclusive from a BIPOC-owned sneaker brand. No, we're not talking about a celebrity collab, like Rihanna's limited-edition Fenty Pumas or Sydney McLaughlin's recent New Balance collab—we're talking about BIPOC-owned brands, from entrepreneurs and designers you've probably never heard of, but definitely should know. Below, seven of our favorite BIPOC-owned sneaker brands that should be on your radar.
7 BIPOC-Owned Sneaker Brands to Check Out ASAP
Founded by Brittney Perry, Perry Co. launched in 2018 with the purpose to create more inclusive, unisex sneakers. The brand is all about breaking down gender barriers through its line of premium, versatile sneakers that can be worn to work, out with friends, on a date—just about anywhere. They're simple yet chic, featuring clean lines, trendy colors, and premiere materials that are built to last.
Brazilian shoe brand Cariuma is a goldmine for stylish sneaks that are sustainable to boot. All of the shoes are consciously made using the best-of-the-best natural materials that are good for Mother Earth and reduce waste. Plus, Cariuma started its own Reforestation Program that supports the rainforests, so with every pair you buy, two trees will be planted in the brand's homeland.
3. NinetyNine Products
After working for 15-plus years at Nike and leading brands like Yeezy and Everlane to sneaker success, Jeffrey Alan Henderson launched his own sneaker brand—NinetyNine Products. These kicks are cool, designed for runners and inspired by the technology some of the best sneaker brands in the world use today. Think: featherlight design, support in all the right places, and hyper-responsive cushioning.
LØCI makes sustainable shoes and aims to divert ocean plastics into usable materials. The sneakers themselves are super sleek, made from eco-friendly materials, 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.
Tired of the white sneaker? Simisienna is your one-stop shop for colorful, bold, and downright funky shoes. The athleisure brand was founded by Kelechi Uju, an entrepreneur and founder of Uju Media. And the brand doesn't just sell sneakers. Here, you can find everything from bathing suits to resistance bands, all in fun colors and snazzy patterns you won't find anywhere else.
Enda launched the first Kenyan running sneaker, the Iten, in 2016. Since then, the brand 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 the majority of the company's shares.
7. The Proper Label
Minimalists take note, this brand sells only plain cotton T-shirts and chic high tops and low tops. Both are crafted with sustainability in mind, using materials like recycled leather, wild rubber, and organic cotton over synthetics and other hard-on-the-planet fabrics.
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