Does the fashion industry finally have a black-owned luxury brand that will last through generations?
Brandon Blackwood started out as a retail employee and intern at fashion magazines working long hours for not much pay. He worked these jobs when on break from college where he was studying biology and neuroscience. Working at these internships ignited a strong desire to be in the industry and gave him the confidence to add fashion design to his major in college.
After graduation, he worked at a thrift store in Brooklyn. That is when he got inspired to design and make his own purse. He found a local manufacturer and had them make him a sample of his design. Many people would compliment him on the street and ask “Where did you get that bag?” Brandon would reply “I made it” with a prideful smile. After some encouragement from a friend, he decided to start his own business.
But he didn’t have investors or a corporation to give him financial backing. So he saved up his coins; about $7000, in 2015 he launched that business; Brandon Blackwood NYC. This Brooklyn, NY based brand is one of several black-owned luxury goods brands that have been started within the last decade.
In 2020, he created a simple but elegant tote bag with the words “end systemic racism” on them in sliver letters in place of the logo. This was a powerful message on social justice reform that caused that design to go viral on social media. His Instagram following went from close to 30,000 to over 300,000. Profits from the sale of these totes were donated to local non-profit organizations.
Fast forward to 2022 and Brandon’s eye-catching, bold and colorful designs are everywhere now. His ads have included celebrities such as Saucy Santana, Halle Berry, and Doja Cat. But he also has images of regular customers; whom he calls cousins, wearing his bags in their Instagram posts on his website and the company’s Instagram account.
This tells a story of affordable and attainable luxury that is all-inclusive. Anyone can feel luxurious or glamorous wearing Brandon’s bags. I love that about the brand’s marketing. And though they aren’t explicitly labeled unisex, the ads make you feel anyone of any gender identity or expression can wear them.
It’s also the late-night Instagram live chats for me. Brandon is consistently checking in with the cousins, letting them know about upcoming drops, new designs, future plans, collaborations; fingers crossed for a BB x Telfar collab, and even asking for design and product ideas. I think this is the most brilliant part is his marketing. It makes the customer feel heard, and feel like part of the growth of the brand.
I highly recommend purchasing a bag from Mr. Blackwood if you can. You will be supporting a black-owned luxury brand that aims to span decades and become a household name synonymous with high-quality bags and accessories just like Louis Vuitton, Hermes, and Prada.