Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, and Michael Kors are owned by publicly traded companies, and are white.
These designers no longer own their brands, but received support to scale, be acquired, or go public in a way Black designers haven’t been able to as of yet.
Ownership within the fashion business is hard, but black consumers in the US have $1.3 trillion in annual spending and own only 7 percent of the businesses in the US.
Cross Colours founders Carl Jones and TJ Walker are anomalies who opened the door to hip-hop and youth culture.
“As people of color, we don’t come from legacy wealth and legacy information,” says Daymond John, who co-founded FUBU with J. Alexander Martin, Keith Perrin, and Carlton Brown in 1992.
Kanye has a licensing deal with Adidas for Yeezy through, but he owns the Yeezy brand and its trademark. Kanye also signed a 10-year deal with the Gap for a Yeezy Gap line, where he will receive royalties and the option to acquire up to 8.5 million shares of stock. Kanye will have equity in Gap. which is why he’s fighting for a seat on the board.
Major corporations have gone about buying up the market so a new young Black Owner is going to have a hard time finding their merchandise on big store shelves. And if they do get an offer from a larger fashion line their chances of any corporate ownership is rare.
The trials and tribulations of the fashion business, have some of the old black owners reentering the market in a new way. Jones and Walker bought back Cross Colours' trademark and selling in retailers including Bloomingdale’s, Zumiez, and Foot Locker. April Walker recently introduced a RAW denim campaign highlighting Black stylists. Fubu’s founders also own their brand and licensed a new agreement with The Brand Liaison.
The road for black owners in fashion is a long and hard one that does not equal the sales that the black community provides. Until the market changes the number of black owners in fashion will always remain low.
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