Call them influencers, call them “blipsters,” call them unicorns or just call them millennials; all I know is they are younger and cooler than me, a slightly weary (but still cool) Gen-Xer. But as much as we may occasionally like to poke fun at our generational brethren, chances are you’ve got one on your list who you feel strangely eager to please—because such is the cultural cachet of the “cool kid.”
Maybe they’re your kid, a younger sibling, a niece, nephew, someone you’re mentoring or someone you’re dating (hey, do you); but trying to find something cool enough for the cool kid can often feel like a losing battle. But never fear, The Glow Up is once again here to help. And because we like to keep it in the family, here’s our (predominantly) black-owned gift guide for the person who already seems to know it all.
I may not be a millennial, but frankly, I pretty much want everything Rayo & Honey makes (and may end up treating myself to a few pieces this season). Their inspirational typography-based wares are heavy on black love—think quotes from hip-hop and Black Arts legends alike—with a minimalist aesthetic that lets the message take center stage. Don’t want to take a risk on gifting one of their wall hangings? Rayo & Honey also makes totes, mirrors and smaller accessories, too.
Their name is pretty self-explanatory, but The Rad Black Kids are ideal for the super laid-back type who defies definition.
“The Rad Black Kids is that intersectional part where we all know we aren’t just ‘urban’ nor are we just adrenaline junkies, but are an amalgamation of it all. The biggest mistruth is that we are monolithic ...” reads their site. Their collection of casual wear and skateboards blend Zimbabwean heritage with cool, California surf style, and you can send someone you love along for the ride.
Okay, this isn’t a black-owned brand (actually, it’s the only non-black-owned brand that made our lists), but the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat caused us to make an exception. Elevating the typical candle gift, art-inspired French housewares boutique Ligne Blanche Paris worked with the estate of the late artist to create a line of high-end wicks, available in the U.S. through Candle Delirium (where you can also cop gorgeous candles from bona fide black-owned brand Harlem Candle Company). Just remember, once the wick is burned, the glassware remains a collectible.
And if you’ve got a beauty-obsessed Basquiat fan on your list, you can also put his incredible art at their fingertips with Basquiat-inspired nail wraps (also a collab with the estate).
Jewelry, canvases, pillows, accessories ... Artist Rachel Stewart does it all—with fabrics she also designs herself. Homages to Stevie Wonder, LaBelle and more can be found in her collage-like designs, as well as highly original one-of-a-kind artwork that will appeal to the unicorn in your life.
Is it blind fandom or cleverly ironic? Who cares—it’s Beyoncé! Better yet, it’s Holidayoncé, her collection of holiday-themed attire that is include some pretty adorable offerings from Beyoncé “Noels” Carter (seriously, there are even Beychella-themed ornaments). Looking for something more timeless? How about a bit of commemorative merch from her recent tour? For the person who’s always asking “What would Beyoncé do?” here’s the answer: Shop Beyoncé!
Of course, there’s no better counterpart to Beyoncé than sister and penultimate cool kid Solange (sorry, Jay). Her Saint Heron Records and site are at the nexus of what’s next, and Saint Heron’s capsule collection-focused Small Matter offers limited runs of covet-worthy subculture moments, like a “Blood Orange” bandana by musician Dev Hynes (just remember scroll down to select options and buy). No, it won’t make anyone as cool as Solange, but it sure will make a die-hard fan happy.
Everything old is new again, which means the nameplate necklace is back with a vengeance—only elevated. Looking for a way to get your (or a special someone’s) message across this holiday season? Noa Jewelry can create a dope piece of jewelry from your handwriting in three plated finishes, in addition to custom orders of their stock fonts.
If you’re into the thrill of the chase, stalk Blk Mkt Vintage for a few days. These self-described “curators of a collection of super-black curiosities, heirlooms, and collectibles” not only have one of the coolest Insta-feeds ever, but most of what you see there is for sale—if you message them in time. If you want to gift them something completely unique but strong on nostalgia, you’ll find it on the Blk Mkt.
Hannah Magazine is frankly more than a magazine. As founder and editor Qimmah Saafir writes, it’s “an unapologetic celebration of and safe space for Black women in the form of a growing community, a biannual custom publication, and an online presence.” Their high-quality, gorgeously photographed editions are true keepsakes, featuring some of the most intriguing and influential black women in our sphere. You can cop a set of their first three editions to inspire someone in your life.
The enamel pin craze is far from over, and Coloring Pins is perhaps the most prolific when it comes to capturing pop-culture moments that truly represent us. From newsworthy moments to timeless icons, a cluster of these is the perfect accent for someone who likes to make a subtly subversive statement. As owner Essence Hayes wrote on her site:
“Coloring Pins was birthed from my wanting to wear pins, but not seeing any for me on the market. There are tons of cute pins, but none of them resonated with me ... I wanted a pin that was an extension of me, and I wanted to be able to walk with a pin that spoke before I did.”
Speaking of statements, All Dem Shades has taken the logo tee to the next level, emblazoning them on dresses, swimsuits and more. Their site has dozens of ways to say “I’m Black and Dope,” but I’m personally in love with their “Black Girls Are Lit” bomber.
Nakimuli is primarily a vintage clothing boutique, but their accessories are equally on point. Our faves? Their “Dookie” bracelets, which are meant to be stacked and rocked with abandon. At $12 each, you can gift one, or an armful. In fact, we can’t think of any better way to get into pattern-mixing in the new year.
History is always being made around us, and the Nas (yes, that Nas)-helmed sportswear line Hstry captures them with a current update; including a collab with ‘90s juggernaut Karl Kani. One to cop this holiday season? An embroidered satin starter jacket in honor of Mandela’s 100th birthday, a remixed replica of one worn by Madiba when he did his freedom tour in 1990.
Shameless plug time: Know someone who loves The Root? Now they can wear The Root! Our newly launched collection of merch includes all the basic to rep your favorite African American news site with pride. Personally, I’m coveting our black pullover hoodie (because, cozy), but I’ve also been told that our logo mug is perfectly sized for a hot cup of white tears (I had to do it.)
Are we there yet? Not quite; we’ve still got four more days to go until we finish our 12 days of gifting. But don’t wait until the last minute (like me, who’s up to her ears in gift guides). Get shopping!