Launched in 2020, the Fifteen Percent Pledge envisioned a new future for retail: 15% of shelf space dedicated to Black-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. The percentage (which represents the demographic of Black people in the United States) seems minute at first glance, but in a climate where Black brands are historically looked over, the ask was radical. The idea for the pledge came to Brother Vellies creative director Aurora James following the murder of George Floyd, as a way for companies to take actionable steps toward racial equity. In the span of a few years, the non-profit organization has partnered with over 28 retailers including Nordstrom, Macy’s, and Sephora, funneling $10B in revenue toward Black-owned businesses in the process.
As the next phase of Fifteen Percent Pledge’s vision, the non-profit has partnered with Moda Operandi to spotlight black designers making waves in fashion right now. The 8 selected brands are featured in a special trunk show, where designs from each are available for pre-order for a limited time. Specially curated by James herself, along with Moda Operandi’s merchandising team, the roster of names includes buzzy emerging labels like Head of State, Agbobly, and Sukeina—all of which were 2022 CFDA Fashion Fund Finalists—as well as brands anOnlyChild and Dur Doux. Rounding out the ready-to-wear offerings in the show are Sunni Sunni, a unisex footwear line founded by designer Sunni Dixon, fine jeweler Lauren Godfrey, and as well as James’s own Brother Vellies. “I know firsthand the systemic barriers that Black business owners face in trying to increase their exposure to the larger retail market,” says James. “Collaborations like these are not only crucial for building brand visibility but are an important step to push the industry forward by challenging how corporations approach supporting Black businesses long term. Our partnership with Moda Operandi is rooted in the mutual desire to create a sustainable ecosystem for Black entrepreneurs, all while showcasing their incredible products and designs along the way.” Bringing more talent to the forefront is definitely a step in the right direction toward greater racial equity in fashion.
To see and shop some of the incredible fashion highlighted within the special collaboration, keep scrolling below.