The two sides of my wardrobe are in stark contrast to each other: typically I dress quite minimalist and in neutral hues, favouring tailoring over anything else. Come sunshine, however, and it’s all change as a bold, statement print and a floaty silhouette is my go-to.
Nothing says summer quite like a fabulous dress, and as the temperatures have soared in the UK in the last few days, I can bet your first dressing thought turned to an easy dress that you’d feel great in, would keep you cool and would require little accessorising. After a few false-starts, summer is finally here, so you’d be wise to invest in a few flattering frocks that are ideal for a heatwave to see you through.
It’s not easy to get a statement dress right, though. With bold prints, the right cut and fabric is crucial to it proving flattering, and there are a host of black-owned brands that have this sussed. Read on to find out four of my favourites:
Who: Cameroonian twins, Christelle and Michele, launched Grass-Fields with the aim of putting the love back into traditional African print again. Their designs are modern and super flattering on all shapes and sizes – everything goes up to a size UK24.
Why I love it: Grass-Fields’ pieces are stunning and striking, and the way they present new pieces on Instagram (their two models look like they’re having the time of their lives dancing away) is unique, and actually really helpful as you can see how the clothes move. Their seamstress team in Cameroon is paid three times the average salary, too.
What to buy: The chic Shola maxi dress, £50, Grass-Fields. Wear it with flat tan sandals and gold earrings.
Who: Fisayo Longe founded Kai Collective back in 2016: she was often inundated with questions from her social media followers about the pieces she wore, which she’d actually made herself from fabric bought on trips abroad so decided to launch her own brand due to the demand.
Why I love it: Longe is a former accountant and is currently studying Anthropology, but has a brilliant fashion business that has taken off with such aplomb, it’s a disservice to call it a side hustle. She hasn’t had any formal fashion training, and yet her designs are undeniably fresh and sexy: perfect if you’re after a dress with a difference.
What to buy: The Gaia dress, £155, Kai Collective – you’ll have to be quick, though, there are over 300 people on the waiting list for the next release.
Who: After learning to sew so that she could create a dress to wear for her 21st birthday party, it was so popular among her friends that Anifa Mvuemba began creating custom pieces. She launched her brand, Hanifa, in 2012, and now has nearly 300,000 followers on its official Instagram. The imagery the brand creates is just as striking as the products.
Why I love it: During lockdown and unable to shoot designs on models, Hanifa released a groundbreaking virtual fashion show on Instagram, the first of its kind. Her 3D designs strutted down a catwalk showcasing how well her pieces fit the female body: a skilled tactic which looks set to change the future of fashion.
What to buy: The Jolie maxi dress which features corset boning and adjustable drawstrings. Around £255, Hanifa.
The Kemist Store
Who: Sade Akinosho is CEO and creative director of her clothing brand, The Kemist Store, and hand picks or designs the collections herself. Akinosho is the epitome of her brand’s aesthetic: chic and sleek. The Kemist Store very rarely restocks, believing in keeping the ‘everyone has it’ feel to a minimum by stocking limited quantities. It means if you see something you love, you need to act quickly.
Why I love it: The Kemist Store is great for those who love tailored shapes and sharp cuts, but in soft and playful, feminine shades. Its shirt dresses are timeless thanks to their classic colourways and shapes, but have modern touches, like a cutaway back on a midi dress, or thigh-high split on a maxi.
What to buy: The Avignon midi dress, £115, The Kemist Store. Wear with white mules and a basket bag.