In this series, Man Repeller shines a light on standout independent, Black-owned fashion labels we think you should know about (and shop from!). And in turn, they’re passing the baton and spotlighting a handful of businesses they know and love. Today we have Darlene and Lizzy Okpo, founding designers of the label William Okpo.
William Okpo, a womenswear line named after the designers’ father (though they have expanded into beauty, too, with a five piece set of lipstick and nail polish in Tumeric and Autumn Brown).
Darlene and Lizzy Okpo
If we drew a three-adjective Venn diagram, William Okpo would sit in the center of:
Vivid, modern, geometric
It’s mid-July, and you’re getting ready for a second date—the first one was last week and it went mind-blowingly well. Today’s plan is to walk through your date’s favorite park that snakes along the river, and to end up at their favorite bench at the pier that overlooks the skyline. Usually, getting dressed for this sort of thing is a high hurdle to clear, but this morning it’s a cinch: The second date outfit recipe consists of William Okpo’s Little Lady skirt, their semitransparent Ringlet Fisherwoman hat, and a swipe of their new semi-matte lipstick. You put on two different pairs of shoes: on your left foot, the Pointe heel—a ballet slipper propped up by a tortoiseshell heel—and on your right, the sportier, nylon Lady boot, and text a picture to your friend, asking which looks better with the outfit. Waiting for her reply and admiring what you’ve put together in the mirror, you take a minute to relish in the pre-date giddiness.
Black entrepreneurship in the Okpo sisters’ words:
“Growing up in New York City, the act of walking into a Black enterprise was almost nonexistent. The local food markets, clothing stores, and beauty supply stores are some of the many businesses where it’s proven that Black people are the highest consumers. Unfortunately, these same businesses are not Black-owned. As it became clear that our dollar doesn’t stay within our community, our community realized we have a responsibility to change this narrative. As it seems, Black people have to be responsible for taking care of Black people—otherwise, if it’s left up to society, we will continue to be a disenfranchised group. Today, we try to take the extra step to buy Black when it comes to purchasing everyday essentials.”
William Okpo photography by Ackime Snow.
Want more? Check out MR Market Strategist Elizabeth Tamkin’s database of more than 600 Black-owned brands, along with some of her personal shopping recommendations. If you have a suggestion that you think should be added, please share it in the comments.