During the early aughts of pandemic, there was an influx of boutique black-owned clothing and footwear brands popping up everywhere. With a focus on luxury materials, bench-made construction and brand identity there are a few that stand out amongst the crowd.
Here are five brands that caught my eye and have personally worn or had the opportunity check out first hand. And yes, these brands may have started out primarily footwear focused and have expanded into apparel too.
Marcus Penny Loafer – Maddox & Co
This Atlanta-based brand came out swinging with sneakers and bench-made loafers in classic profiles. Think snuff suede tassel loafers, color blocking and low-profile sneakers. With artisanal Italian leathers with obvious nods to traditional footwear, Maddox & Co has recently release rich colored mules, rockstar level Chelsea boots and smartly on-trend varsity jackets.
Trust me, I now own three pairs of their shoes and they’ll remain in my rotation for years to come.
GEBA Lace-up Lug Boot – Armando Cabral
You may be familiar with the name Armando Cabral as one of the top male models in the world for the last 15 years (the face of J.Crew menswear, Louis Vuitton & many more). However, in 2009 — Cabral launched his namesake brand to fill a void in the market. Today, the African inspired luxury brand has expanded from footwear to apparel and fragrance.
The west African-born Cabral has created a brand that not only represents his journey as a model and father, the Armando Cabral brand represents a level of luxury that’s not often associated with black-owned brands.
Gwanda 1 Ndlovu CW – The Rad Black Kids
During the return of Project Tradeshow in Las Vegas last winter, I met the founder of The Rad Black Kids — Thulani Ngazimbi. While walking pass his both, I was floored by the eye-catching designs, deep colors and range of his footwear. After a brief conversation and fawning over all his shoes, I realized Ngazimbi created a brand that speaks to people that wanted to break away from the norm.
With a focus on sustainability, the brand plants 20 trees for every product sold. And, if you want to know one of my favorite designs from the brand check out the Gwanda 1 Silwane.
Look out for this brand to be the next one to really take off over the next few years.
Ellis Penny Loafer – Blackstock & Weber
We’ve written about and featured Blackstock & Weber footwear several times since 2018 here on Men’s Style Pro. And, we can honestly say this is the one brand that had the great growth in popularity, product design and reach over the last five years. Focusing mainly on loafers, Blackstock & Weber has become the go-to footwear brand of the new “menswear” guy. Personally, I have three pairs brands shoes and it’s hard to beat the material quality, slightly chunky fit and almost sneaker feel.
And, we’re not the only people that love them. With collaborations with streetwear juggernaut KITH, BEE Line (BBC Icecream) and luxury department store Bloomingdale’s — Blackstock & Weber has solidified themselves as a footwear powerhouse. To me, they’re overall aesthetic is the epitome of modern cool.
In the new year, Chris Echevarria — B&W founder with be taking the helm as the creative director of the historic footwear brand, Sperry to create “Sperry by Chris Echevarria“. This will represent the first in Sperry’s history that they will have a guest creative director.
Lucky for me, I received my first pair of B&W shoes (suede lace-up wingtips) in 2018 directly from Chris himself as a gift to wear while hosting a Kentucky Derby event. And honestly, I’ll never let them go.
Legend London Ace Sneakers – Good Man Brand
You may or may not have heard of Good Man Brand, but, you probably heard of its founder — NFL QB and Superbowl Champion, Russell Wilson. Don’t let the fact this this is a celebrity brand deter you from checking out their footwear and apparel. The quality and design are top-tier. From sneakers, boots to slide Good Man Brand makes beautifully constructed footwear in Italy.
Logically, because the brand is co-founded by a professional athlete, that Good Man Brand pieces are with a serious level construction — to withstand the test of time and wear especially for active and stylish men. Out of the box, each piece of footwear has an almost custom made feel. They’re definitely worth a purchase.
Be sure to check out the boot selection — their quality is even better than expected and should be experienced first hand.
Founder & Creative Director of Men's Style Pro, Sabir has a deep passion for menswear and all things manly. Selected as one of the "5 Best Dressed Men In America" by Esquire Magazine in 2010 & as #GQFall 2013 Best Dressed Man. As of 2014, Sabir serves as a freelance brand ambassador & executive stylist for GQ Magazine & GQ Report. Outside of that partnership, Sabir serves as an independent brand consultant as well. Reach me directly at SABIR@MENSSTYLEPRO.COM