To anyone following the fashion industry, it should come as no surprise that racism runs rampant throughout it. Black fashion designers are rarely recognized for their unique talents and creativity. While there have been some positive steps in recent years, the entire industry still lacks African Americans. Only 7.5% of all US fashion designers are Black. One company striving to make a difference in this industry is Black-owned Murway. Murway is a gender-neutral luxury Italian leather bag line.
Struggles Faced by Black Fashion Designers
All designers struggle to get their foot in the door, but Black designers always seem to be fighting an uphill battle. One way into the industry is to get hired to design for a house by their head of house. However, these heads of houses are rarely people of color and rarely hire Black designers. This makes it even harder for African American designers to break into the industry. Therefore, they usually have to start their own business. Starting from scratch requires funding. Socioeconomic factors may limit these Black designers even further. If they can’t pay for inventory, advertising, and to get their products in front of customers, the chances of exposure are limited.
Denishio Murray, Founder of Murway
Denishio Murray, founder of Murway, had an interesting start in the business world. In 2017, when he was just 24 years old, Murray started Murray’s In-Home Care. This personal care agency assists the disabled and elderly. This company gave Murray a head start in being a successful Black entrepreneur.
Murray notes there are certain characteristics that make you more likely to succeed when starting your own business. Doing so requires “determination, resilience, taking the time to educate yourself on business and your industry, and having a very strong work ethic.” For a Black entrepreneur, he stresses that these things are even more important.
In 2020 he started Murway, a gender-neutral leather bag line. He had always had a passion for fashion design and with his experience in business, he decided it was time to combine his two skills.
As a Black-owned business, Murway is one example of a company that formed in part due to the difficulties African Americans face in the fashion industry. It is common for Black fashion designers to have a very creative, unique vision. Sometimes this vision is not shared by those higher up on the food chain.
Murray encourages future entrepreneurs like him to “never let anyone place a limit on your capabilities.” He also tells up-and-coming Black designers that “your own approval is enough.” This is an important reminder for all designers, he says, because he believes that it is easy to get rejected in a world where creativity and subjectivity are the name of the game.
Murray Gets Started in Fashion Early
Murray recalls being his mother’s stylist even when he was very young. He would style looks for his mother and other family members whenever there was a special event. He loves to use his creativity to make people feel good about themselves. His love for fashion is rooted deeply in his love for his family. This is one reason why he named his most recent “MoMo” collection by Murway after his late uncle, who passed away from COVID-19 in September 2021.
Murway Combines Black Creativity with Luxury
The Black Lives Matter movement has created a “Buy Black” movement. Shopping habits have changed over the last few years to support Black-owned businesses. Consumers are also looking for more socially conscious businesses and are hoping to help make that change themselves. Murway, one of these Black-owned businesses, combines distinctive Black creativity in design with genuine Italian leather. These bags could sell for over $1,000, but it was important to Denishio Murray that his bags were accessible to everyone, so he lowered his prices.
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