Philadelphia’s diverse communities made it strong, as do the many shops, restaurants and businesses owned by Blacks and people of color.
The Best Black-Owned Philly Boutiques
A handful are highlighted here. But don’t stop there. Philadephia is full of Black-owned shops, businesses and restaurants to explore.
Former Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins, a two time Super Bowl champ, and his business partner Eric White opened Damari Savile in 2017. The men’s and women’s boutique specializes in modern custom suiting both made to measure and ready-to-wear that keeps culture at the forefront. The store also carries custom bowties, neckties, pocket squares. Online shopping, virtual and in-person appointments are currently available.
Blue Sole Shoes
Blue Sole Shoes carries new and cutting edge men’s shoes, updated classics, well-known brands and high-end socks, men’s leather bags, belts and other accessories. The store specializes in high-end shoes by designers including Harris Magnanni, John Richmond, Roberto Cavalli and Jo Ghost. Steve Jamison, an Italian footwear specialist, opened the store in 2007 and expanded in 2016. He was named “best buyer outside Italy” by MICAM, sponsor of the world’s largest footwear trade show. Jamison has installed an air filter system in the store, has initiated a rigorous cleaning routine and is currently limiting capacity. Masks are required in the store and latex gloves are available.
October Gallery, which sells mostly contemporary Black art, opened in 1985 making it one of the oldest African American galleries in the country. Owner Mercer Redcross strives to deliver magic and romance with the art experience and carries art that fits any budget. The gallery’s name is derived from the month, when the world is at its most colorful with leaves changing from green to orange, red, purple, yellow and brown - like the colors used by an artist. The gallery has commemorated its name by hosting one of the nation’s largest African American Art Expos each October for more than 30 years.
The Fashion District: American Hats, Fason De Viv, Sable Collective
The Fashion District is a new shopping mall in the heart of Center City (downtown) Philadephia. The Fashion District spans a three-block stretch in the corridor between the Pennsylvania Convention Center and the historic district and is linked to Jefferson Station, a major transportation hub. One of the things that makes this mixed-used mall special is the section of locally-owned stores including Black-owned Fason De Viv, American Hats and Sable Collective.
Fason De Viv offers a carefully-curated selection of unique, affordable, ethically and environmentally conscious items including a collection created by Zen Samad, the founder, and her mother, as well as other Philadelphia artisans. The Haitian-inspired store has an eclectic mix of fashion, jewelry, accessories, home decor, art and beauty brands. Online shopping is available and the flagship store in the Fashion District is expected to open in mid-October.
American Hats, LLC offers high-quality hats for men and women including church hats, dress hats, fascinators, classy and casual headwear, vintage hats, hats for events including weddings and the Kentucky Derby. The business was established by Reverend Georgette Morgan-Thomas, an avid hat wearer. Her company is family-run and all of the hats are manufactured locally. The shop has re-opened and online shopping is also available.
The Sable Collective moved into the Fashion District from North Philadelphia. Owner Shanti Mayers designed the Sable Collective to be a place where Black women will find products selected for their joy, healing and happiness. The store carries clothing, locally-made jewelry, housewares, new and used books, affirmation pennants, beauty, body care and wellness products. Shoppers are will find unique products that reflect the cultural references and experiences of Black women and women of color. Online sales available.
The Fashion District has re-opened with reduced hours and limited capacity. Extra cleaning protocol is in place and hand sanitizing stations have been set up throughout the mall. Common seating areas have been removed and guests are asked to wear masks and practice social distancing.
When Bonkosi Alyssa Horn and Morrisa Jenkins envisioned a space for women, especially Black women and women of color, they imagined it would be a community that supported women and helped women find themselves. With that dream in mind, they created Freedom Apothecary, a self-care shop and event space in Northern Liberties. The boutique carries holistic skincare and wellness products, does facials, conducts workshops and features an enticing blend bar with a selection of extracts oils and salts for masks, oils, scrubs and bath salts. Their shop is women-founded, women-led and provides a platform for female-founded brands. The shop is currently doing virtual consults and online sales.
Marsh & Mane
Think a lemongrass leave-in conditioner that locks in moisture, strengthens and conditions hair. Or the luxurious feeling of a hibiscus cleaner full of antioxidants and vitamin C that naturally brightens and cleanses your skin. Those are the kinds of sumptuous products at Marsh & Main, Philadelphia’s first upscale boutique specializing in natural products for Black hair and skin. The chic boutique carries beauty products for cleansing, conditioning, styling by Zuresh, Bask & Bloom, Anita Grant, Angie Watts and Scotch Porter and many other brands. The store carries products for men and children also.
Marsh & Mane is the brainchild of Jenea Robinson, who named the store for her grandparents’ homes in the Carolina Wetlands. She and her knowledgeable staff guide customers through product selection or can just point them in the right direction. No customer is ever rushed or followed in this inviting sanctuary. Shop in-store (capacity is currently capped at 6 customers) using a mask or online. In-store pick up is also available.