MichNat Fashion Celebrates Canada’s Tapestry of Diversity during Black History Month.

The Importance of Supporting Black Fashion in Canada

February in Canada and the United States is a time to celebrate Black History Month. We use Black History Month to recognize and acknowledge Canadian Black artists, activists, and historical figures who paved the way for equality and racial justice. However, the past is not the only thing we should look to during Black History Month.

Now more than ever is the time to recognize and support Black designers in Canada who are making significant contributions to the fashion industry. MichNat Fashion is a Black-owned Canadian fashion brand. When our founder, Funmilayo Odeniyi, came to Canada from Nigeria, she wanted to redefine diversity in Canada and invite people of all backgrounds in. 

Some may wonder, is it appropriate to wear Afro-centric clothing if you are from different cultural backgrounds? But when we recognize the significance of Canadian Black artists, both past and present, then we can show appreciation during Black History Month.

Why Canadian Black History Month is Important to Fashion


Black History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black individuals to society. It is a time to reflect on the struggles and triumphs of the Black community and to honour the resilience and strength of those who fought for the rights and representation of future generations. Black History Month is an opportunity to recognize those who paved the way for us in Canadian Black fashion. 

In the 1960s and 1970s, Caribbean Black immigrants to Canada were often the first Black people to appear on Canadian fashion magazine covers, the first to walk the runways at fashion shows, and the first to launch clothing lines geared towards a Black consumer market. Many had to challenge stereotypes not only about Black people but also about Black aesthetics. Ola Skanks was a Toronto-born choreographer and fashion designer of Caribbean descent. She spearheaded bold Afro-centric designs and challenged stereotypes in Canada. In the 1970s, Skanks hosted fashion events in Toronto, inviting members of the Caribbean community. During these events, she showcased traditional African fashions such as the dashiki, a vibrant and loose-fitting tunic with roots in West Africa.

Another pioneer in Canadian Black fashion history is Aurora James, the founder of the 15 Percent Pledge. James, a Toronto native, launched the 15 Percent Pledge in response to the lack of representation of Black-owned businesses in major retailers. The pledge calls on retailers to commit 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses, helping to promote diversity and equity in the retail sector.

These examples highlight the importance of Black History Month to Canadian fashion. MichNat wants to carry that torch and continue to light the way for diversity and representation. We seek to inspire future generations of Black designers to pursue their dreams and make their mark on the industry.

Authenticity and Representation:

One of the challenges that Black designers in Canada may face is the question of authenticity. People who do not come from Black cultures and backgrounds may wonder if they can wear Afro-centric designs or if it would be considered cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation in fashion is nothing new and can be incredibly harmful to Black designers. Cultural appropriation in fashion often looks like brands using important motifs without belonging to or fully understanding that culture. 

Fashion that appropriates a culture usually doesn’t seek to give anything back in return. That’s why we want to make a clear distinction between Appropriation and Appreciation. When you support Black fashion like MichNat, you are buying directly from that culture. You can feel comfortable knowing you are not wearing a costume, but custom designs with authenticity and representation sewn into every seam. 

Buying from Black-owned designer brands is the best way to show support, appreciation, and diversity for Black businesses. Authenticity is key in fashion. What better way to show that you appreciate a culture than when you buy from its authentic source? You’ll not only be wearing beautiful designs, but you’ll help Black designer’s visions be seen respectfully. 

Canada's Diversity: A Rich Tapestry of Fashion

Diversity and equity are essential in the fashion industry. Without diversity, fashion can become narrow-minded and only for the few. But MichNat Fashion is not just for the few, it’s for all. 

Canada is a country that shows us what it means to be for everyone. We’re known for multiculturalism and diversity. MichNat doesn’t just highlight our Nigerian background, we seek to incorporate many aspects of African, Black and Canadian cultures respectfully. Giving further visibility and opportunities to artists who come from marginalized backgrounds.

Equity still has a long way to go in Canada, but supporting Black designers is the first step. Then we can push for further changes not only in Canada but the fashion industry as a whole. 

MichNat Fashion: A Celebration of Culture and Heritage


MichNat Fashion is more than just a clothing brand; it's a celebration of culture and heritage. Funmi Odeniyi founded MichNat Fashion in 2020 to increase diversity in the fashion industry while bringing a taste of Africa to Canada. Through her designs, Funmi tells a story about the past and present, uplifting and reminding people that they can glow even through trying times.

Funmi's recent showcase at Fashion Art Toronto in November 2023 highlighted MichNat's unique fusion of Afro-centric aesthetics with global modernity, positioning her as a leading Black Canadian designer. The collection offers a range of hand-crafted designs, including ready-to-wear pieces and bespoke creations tailored with love and care. In 2023, Funmi also received the honour of being recognized among the 100 Canada International Black Women of Excellence to watch. Both accomplishments show MichNat Fashion’s drive to be an active player in diversifying Canadian fashion and what Funmi calls, “glowing in your culture.”

Supporting Black Designers: Glowing in One’s Culture

Black designers do not want people to feel unsure if they can wear their clothes or not. Black designers want their designs to be shown and worn in a respectful, authentic, and individual way. As we celebrate Black History Month, ask yourself what it means to glow in your culture. Are there aspects of your own culture you love to wear and represent? That feeling of pride is what we create each MichNat design with. 

Let's take this opportunity to support Canadian Black designers like Funmi Odeniyi and recognize the importance of where we buy our clothes. By supporting Canadian Black designers, we not only celebrate their talent and creativity but also contribute to a more appreciative fashion industry. 

Together, we can make a difference and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to shine and glow in their unique way.

Want to glow in your unique way and culture? Book a consultation with Funmi to get a custom-made piece this Black History Month.

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