Candice Brathwaite on Fashion’s First Collaboration, Industry Inclusion – WWD

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LONDON – Candice Brathwaite is not your typical fashion personality.

She first appeared in the limelight with her bestselling book, “I Am Not Your Baby Mother,” which tells the stories of black motherhood and recently published “Sista Sister,” which provides insight of growth as a young black girl in Britain and was another immediate success.

But Brathwaite also has a real flair for style and tends to share a lot of colorful fashion and well-being on her popular Instagram page, from selfies in her Manolo Blahniks jewelry, to reels showing off the Joseph knits she rented on the store. London’s new rental platform Onloan.

She’s now dipping her toes a little deeper into the fashion world with her first collaboration with sustainable accessories brand Been London – and also brings a refreshing perspective on the state of the industry.

The shift to conscious consumption is a priority for her, which is why she chose to collaborate with an independent label like Been, known for its sustainable references and its philosophy of only creating handbags from animals. dead.

“It’s a small business, so I had complete creative freedom and the opportunity to offer my audience something totally sustainable. Most people with a platform like mine would more likely partner with a fast fashion brand – and there’s no shame in that, ”said Brathwaite, who started talking to Been London about it. ‘a partnership after wearing one of their bags on her Instagram and generating sales. to their site.

Candice Brathwaite x Been London
Courtesy of Been London

Its design, a half-crescent moon shape with pleats all over in a bright green hue, underwent several tests before launch, with Brathwaite wanting to make sure the practical needs of women were met.

“If someone has to spend three figures on a bag, they have to work hard: I’m a busy mom of two, I need an adjustable shoulder strap and an internal pocket with a zipper and two handles that can sit comfortably in the crook of my arm. I love a classic Chanel flap but hate that the strap isn’t adjustable, ”said Brathwaite, who spent two months with a sample of her model, even taking her on vacation to Barbados, to see how it fits. was wearing and if he could withstand the heat. “Been wants their bags to work for life and they keep their word when they say they make their bags from scraps.”

She’s already working on a new colourway and considering the idea of ​​getting into apparel, but that comes with her own set of challenges and moral dilemmas.

“If I wanted to switch to clothing, I would like the line to include size and go up to size 30, but that would also mean partnering with someone who is less sustainable and can cover the cost of producing this. ladder. I don’t judge the people doing these partnerships because you have to think about the price your audience can afford – even thinking about my own financial situation a few years ago, I wouldn’t be able to buy the bag that I designed, ”said Brathwaite. “We have to be careful not to demonize fast fashion. For some people, a 100-pound coat for H&M is top of the line – we can’t fault people for not making sustainable choices because they just don’t make that much money. We have to accept what people can afford and reconfigure who we are talking to. It is really the duty of brands and distributors to produce less.

Brathwaite can see through the industry’s many inclusion issues, drawing many parallels from his experiences in the publishing world.

His first idea of ​​”Sista Sister” was turned down about nine times because it was “too dark”.

“It just turned out that in pre-George Floyd society, the publishing houses weren’t okay with publishing black voices,” said Brathwaite, who was repeatedly asked to. dilute his writing and make it a more universal conversation. But after the success of “I’m Not Your Baby Mother,” she doubled down on her initial brief to put the black woman experience at the center of the conversation.

“When I was a teenager I couldn’t find these books that were about my British black experience and wanted to become like an aunt by passing that on to her nieces and telling them about all the things they can run into because they are black. My readership is still 80% white, but we all have to get used to reading books where we’re not the main character. That shouldn’t make it any less attractive, ”Brathwaite said.

Candice Brathwaite x Been London

Candice Brathwaite x Been London
Courtesy of Been London

She would like the same change to start happening in fashion, both in terms of body and racial diversity.

“I’m getting married and buying a wedding dress has been such a fatphobic experience. Usually I only buy accessories, but this time I had to face the reality: I want to give my money to brands, but their dresses only go up to size 16. We also want to be beautiful, why are you cutting all these women? ? “asked Brathwaite.

Likewise, there is a need to invest more and collaborate significantly in black businesses, in order to recognize the purchasing power of the black community and the enormous contribution of black culture to fashion.

“Most black brands are fully self-funded, what else do they have to do to get the right investment? I would like black creatives to be taken more seriously. And no, a Virgil Abloh doesn’t make up for it.


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