Fashion has a way of transcending borders. It’s common for designers to draw inspiration from cultural crossroads — think of Kim Shui’s culturally diffused bustier, Beyonce’s red-and-gold ensemble by Abu Jani Sandeep Khosla or Naeem Khan’s gown inspired by Moroccan ceramics.
Since President Donald Trump has taken office, he has pushed an anti-immigration agenda, one that includes mass deportation raids and detainment of migrant children. In response, the fashion community has been vocal against xenophobia and racism. Here are 12 fashion brands unapologetically speaking up for immigrant rights.
Kids of Immigrants, founded by first-generation Americans Daniel Buezo and Weleh Dennis, are artists who put immigrant justice at the forefront of their work. They repurpose thrifted items into innovative handmade pieces, and have received attention from artists like Kehlani, Big Sean, Lil Uzi Vert and Camila Cabello. KOI and Honduran-American musician Lorely Rodriguez have teamed up to raise money for Border Angels, a San Diego-based nonprofit that works to prevent migrant deaths on the Californian border through water drops and rescue stations, as well as by providing legal consultation and education services.
In partnership with LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the world’s largest luxury group, Fenty was created by pop artist and entrepreneur Rihanna. Not only is this the first time a woman of color will lead an LVMH maison, but Rihanna is also emphatic about her creative direction and identity: “Wherever I go, except for Barbados, I’m an immigrant,” she told New York magazine’s The Cut earlier this year. With the goal of a versatile line, she debuted an “Immigrant” shirt on the Fourth of July (sorry, but it’s sold out).
No Borders is a concept store in Mumbai, India, and New York City that celebrates diversity in fashion, culture and art. Founder and creative director Kanika Karvinkop curates collections that have a story to tell, especially if that story is inspired by an artist’s roots. The brand envisions “no lines between us and no boundaries when it comes to creative expression,” according to its site.
Chnge is tackling injustice through digital marketing, sustainable fabrics and minimal, conscious streetwear. They make graphic tees that boldly proclaim “Immigrant Power” and “No Human Is Illegal On Stolen Land.” At the Turkish factories that Chnge works with, workers make a living wage and are taught about financial management.
Who recalls Frank Ocean’s legendary “Why be racist, sexist, homophobic, or transphobic when you could just be quiet?” T-shirt? Greenbox, the designer of that shirt, has activism at the core of its mission. The brand is owned by Kayla Robinson, an Afro-Latina entrepreneur who identifies as queer, and its “Fight Ignorance Not Immigrants” T-shirt offers a resolute support of immigration.
Founder and designer Patty Delgado celebrates the intricacies of Latinx identity by juxtaposing a “Fuck Ice” T-shirt ― an apparent reference to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement ― with a Taco Tuesday post on Instagram. “Our fashion serves as reminders of where we come from and who we are,” Delgado wrote on her website. “Our clothes provide us with a sense of familiarity, home and belonging.”
Applauded for its New York spirit, Awake NY streetwear offers a “Protect People, Not Borders” T-shirt that’s also available in Spanish. All proceeds will go to Al Otro Lado, a group that offers medical and legal support to immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border, and to Casa Arcoiris, which provides legal and health services to LGBTQ+ migrants in Tijuana.
Born in Singapore and raised in Nepal and India, designer Prabal Gurung, who is now based in New York, knows firsthand about the immigrant journey. His fall/winter 2017 collection featured T-shirts that read “I Am An Immigrant” and “Break Down Walls.” A portion of proceeds from those sales were donated to the American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood and Shikshya Foundation Nepal.
Mexican designer Ricardo Seco showcases colorful layers for his fall/winter 2018 collection, Alebrijes-Dreamers. Along with this collection, his “Love Immigrant” T-shirt and “Proud Immigrant” coat urge us to reimagine the American Dream.
Each year, according to its website, Opening Ceremony “showcases the spirit and merchandise of a visiting country” in its stores ― part of what it calls its “multinational approach to retail.” In 2016, OC also partnered up with Kids In Need of Defense, an organization that aims to protect children who enter the U.S. immigration system alone.
Warby Parker is a prescription eyewear brand based out of New York. Its co-founder and co-CEO, David Gilboa, immigrated to the United States at age 6. In 2017, when New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sued the Trump administration over the decision to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, Warby Parker filed a declaration in support of the lawsuit.
Levi Strauss emigrated from Bavaria to San Francisco in 1853. Today, Levi’s jeans are a household name, and the Levi Strauss Foundation has pledged $1 million in grants to groups that protect the civil liberties of immigrants, refugees, transgender people and other marginalized communities.