When it comes to conversations about the impact of colorism and texturism has on black representation, clothing brands aren’t typically the ones leading the narrative— but Nappy Head Club is different.
Founded by two sisters, Rikki-Richelle and Rachel Topping, Nappy Head Club is a clothing and lifestyle brand that was born from a growing frustration with the lack of representation that truly showed the diversity of Blackness—especially around people with 4C hair.
In fact, NHC has been in the making for some time. The brand is actually a matured version of 4C Only Club, an online community the duo created to celebrate the kinks and curls that were being overlooked and under-represented in fashion and lifestyle industries.
In an interview with Byrdie, Topping explained how the brand organically came to be:
“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.”
Additionally, both founders thought it was important to reclaim the word “nappy”, as it is typically racially-charged and used as a pejorative for black women with kinky hair.
“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?”
And from there, the brand—as we know it today—was born.
Nappy Head Club’s ‘The Blacker the Berry’ Collection
True to the brand’s initiative, The Blacker the Berry Collection is making a statement about colorism and the black community’s direct, and indirect, encouragement of it.
“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.”
You might ask yourself, “why would a brand originally created to celebrate natural hair suddenly put a focus on colorism?” Well, it’s because colorism and texturism are inextricably linked to one another.
Both are biases rooted in racist beauty standards that were never meant to include us in the first place. The same thing that makes you say loose curls and waves are “good hair” while kinks are “bad”, is also the same thing that makes you favor lighter skin over deep, dark skin.
The beliefs are a result of a system that is deliberately oppressive and exclusionary, which is why we struggle to get the necessary representation of dark skinned men and women with kinky hair today.
Nappy Head Club is using The Blacker the Berry Collection to help put this problem to bed.
“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.
Aside from featuring beautiful melanin-rich, natural-haired models, the collection is offering up reversible bathing suits, beach towels, blankets, and their signature “Blacker the Berry” print t-shirt.
Community Support, Growth, and the Beyond.
Nappy Head Club consistently puts their money where their mouth is with their own brand and initiatives, and they’re no different when it comes to showing love and support to other black creatives and community-builders.
For this collection, they worked with illustrator Octavia Thorn to create each piece. Topping detailed why it’s important to work with others with the same goal in mind:
“[Collaborating] 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.”
She continues, “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.”
In addition to collaborating with others in the community, they also donate a portion of their proceeds to organizations and nonprofits working toward the advancement of the black community as a whole.
As you can see, Nappy Head Club is doing the work to celebrate Blackness, all while offering up stylish threads and statement pieces along the way. Don’t forget to support them on Instagram @NappyHead_Club and shop their new collection at nappyheadclub.com
You can also read their full interview and feature in Byrdie here.