Our fashion choices can send a message about who we are and what we stand for. Nappy Head Club, a Black-owned fashion and lifestyle brand, has designed its clothing collections to tell powerful stories about the Black experience. Founded by sisters Rachel Topping and Rikki-Richelle, Nappy Head Club was born out of their frustration with the lack of representation in fashion and beauty they noticed growing up.
Nappy Head Club is an evolved version of the duo's online community focused on Black beauty, 4C Only Club. "The idea [with 4C Only Club] was to celebrate the girls with the naps and kinks—the people we felt fashion was not celebrating," Topping says. "But after about a year of it just being an Instagram account, people were asking how they can support us. We thought about what we could provide to our community that they would value. We felt we didn't have a place to exist as people who love fashion but are also very pro-Black. So, we decided to create clothing that exists in both of those worlds."
In 2018, the brand became officially known as Nappy Head Club. Changing the brand name to its current moniker was far from an easy decision due to the word "nappy" having a racially charged history, but they agreed it was important. "Nappy is a very polarizing and sensitive word," Topping says. "Our intention with Nappy Head Club was to address that tension. We wanted to change our name to something that was going to make us talk about it. Like, why is this word being thrown around? Why does it have such an impact?"
The Blacker The Berry Collection
The desire to foster important conversations is naturally embedded into the pieces Nappy Head Club creates. Their latest drop, The Blacker the Berry Collection, brings attention to colorism. "We wanted to use this summer to have a conversation about colorism because I think sometimes people think we're past it," Topping says. "But summer is one of those times where it really starts to manifest, and we're tired of it. People will say, 'Oh, I want to go to the beach, but I don't need to get any darker,' or it comes out in other subtle ways in our rhetoric."
The collection features pieces that encourage Black people to go outside and celebrate their melanin-rich skin like a reversible bathing suit (which doubles as a bodysuit), swim trunks, beach towels, blankets, and the brand's signature "Blacker the Berry" t-shirt. "Hopefully, when you're wearing these clothes, it will spark conversation within your friend groups about why this is a topic that we're still talking about," Topping adds.
Empowering the Black Community
In line with their mission to empower the Black community, Nappy Head Club worked with Black female illustrator and artist Octavia Thorn to create each piece of the collection. She created the clothing's designs and prints using hand-carved ink prints inspired by the '70s. "It's a lot of fun to collaborate with other creatives," Topping says. "It allows us to continue to share the wealth. All of our collaborators are part owners of those collections, so they receive proceeds from every sale that has their designs on them. I also thought it would be special to kind of work with somebody who has experienced colorism. When [Octavia and I] first met, we had a long conversation about colorism. I think it adds another level to the collection when we're working with creatives who are experiencing this themselves."
The brand also strives to make an impact by donating a portion of proceeds to a different cause each month."Because we are celebrating the Black community, it's really important for us that we're giving back to the Black community," Topping says. "There are a lot of issues that are important to us, and we try our best to rotate through different charities that stand for the causes that we believe in." This month, they are working with the Black Art Futures Fund, which provides grants to organizations and non-profits supporting Black art.
The Future of Nappy Head Club
With three years under their belt and over 37K followers on Instagram, Nappy Head Club is looking forward to continuing to celebrate Blackness in as many ways that they can. "I'm excited to take Nappy Head Club abroad," Topping shares. "We have a lot of fans in countries where their Blackness is not represented. So, we're excited to expand into South Africa, Brazil, the UK, and Paris. We also want to have multi-purpose spaces where we can sell, have events, and bring our online safe space to a physical location."