by Stephen Garner

Following a year that required more self-reflection, listening, and compassion than ever before, Nordstrom is beginning 2021 with a renewed focus on its commitment to community. With a long-held belief in the value of diversity, Nordstrom is working to play an active role in contributing to the positive change required to address systemic racial inequity.  

“We are a part of the communities we serve, and that means we have a responsibility to create a sense of welcoming and belonging for all,” said Pete Nordstrom, chief brand officer and president of Nordstrom, Inc. “We know our impact extends beyond our own walls and we’re committed to taking steps to be a part of the solution by making Nordstrom a better, more inclusive and anti-racist company for our employees, customers, partners, and communities.”  

As such, Nordstrom is doubling down on its commitment to community through diversity and inclusion with the opening of two pop-ups focusing on Black creatives.

For Nordstrom Men’s, the retailer’s senior vice president of designer and New Concepts, Sam Lobban, and his team launched Concept 012: Black_Space – a collaborative effort highlighting five Black creatives. Designer Beth Birkett, creative director Harris Elliott, stylist Matthew Henson, stylist Marcus Paul, and fashion editor Azza Yousif, all contributed a unique point-of-view and introduce brands that celebrate Black fashion and beauty. Concept 012: Black_Space is a dedicated shop developed, designed, and curated by Black voices to amplify Black representation and is now live through early May.

Concept 012: Black_Space is a celebration of Black creativity through fashion and retail. Each of the five curators’ selections are distinctly represented through in-store build-outs and merchandising, as well as an online site experience that includes video content uniquely created by each curator to represent their perspective.

“New Concepts @Nordstrom has always been a platform to tell brand and product stories, with the goal to try and show the interconnectivity between fashion and culture. In line with that, we’ve always wanted to do something which would bring together a group of creatives with whom both the New Concepts team and I have built relationships with over our careers; people who we respect and appreciate for their unique and diverse perspective,” said Lobban. “Through this process, we collaboratively built Concept 012: Black_Space, ultimately with the aim to celebrate Black fashion and creativity through the lens of some of the figures who are helping to shape it.”

The collections within Concept 012: Black_Space feature a selection of exclusive to Nordstrom ready-to-wear, shoes, and accessories including jewelry that present a varied look into Black creativity and style. The shop includes menswear and womenswear with prices ranging from $20 to upwards of $1,600.

Of the 28 brands within Concept 012: Black_Space, 25 are available at Nordstrom for the first time. The full list of brands includes Adeshola Makinde, Ahluwalia, Andre Walker, Andre Walker x Off-White, Armando Cabral, Art Comes First, Bephie’s Beauty Supply, Bianca Saunders, Bode, Botter, Brownstone, Bryan Jimenez, Cold Laundry, Come Back As a Flower LLC, Connor McKnight, Coral Studios, Darrell Brown, Exhibit69, Full Court Sport, Haffmans & Neumeister, Le Tings, Nicholas Daley, O-Design, Off White, Sansovino 6, Spencer Badu, Wales Bonner, Wales Bonner x Adidas, Wanda Lephoto, and XULY BËT.

In addition to these collections, Beth Birkett is introducing Bephie’s Beauty Supply to Nordstrom which not only includes apparel but also beauty and wellness categories featuring facial toner, moisturizer, sunscreen, tints, hand cleanser, and soap, as well as a handheld mirror. Prices range from $10 to $440.

New Concept 012: Black_Space is available online as well as 12 physical retail locations nationwide including Nordstrom Men’s Store NYC, Nordstrom Downtown Seattle, Nordstrom NorthPark Center in Dallas, Nordstrom Pacific Center in Vancouver, B.C, Nordstrom South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa, and Nordstrom Aventura Mall in Miami.

Additional locations include Nordstrom Century City in Los Angeles, Nordstrom Fashion Valley in San Diego, Nordstrom Michigan Avenue in Chicago, Nordstrom Phipps Plaza in Atlanta, Nordstrom Tyson’s Corner Center in McLean, Virginia, and Nordstrom Valley Fair in San Jose.

Nordstrom is also celebrating Black-owned brands and creatives on a national level with the expansion of its inclusive beauty category, the launch of GOODEE Home and Nordstrom Made is introducing a new collection of intimates in a range of skin tones and sizes.

The retailer’s second pop-up focusing on Black creatives is now open at Nordstrom NYC. Dubbed, “Black Founders,” the two-month-long pop-up shop, open through March 28th, features eight Black-founded and -owned companies from across the country, spanning beauty, men’s and women’s apparel, accessories, and footwear.

Customers are invited to explore, shop, and get to know the featured brands’ stories through interviews with the founders behind them, including new to Nordstrom, Sharon Chuter of UOMA Beauty, Miko Underwood of Oak & Acorn ~ Only for the Rebelles, Erika Dalya Massaquoi of The OULA Company, Elann Zelie of Zelie for She, John Dean of Renowned, Jessica Rich of her eponymous shoe brand, Corianna and Brianna Dotson of Coco and Breezy Eyewear, and existing brand Nancy Twine of Briogeo Hair Care. The in-store space is designed with the look and feel of an archive, allowing shoppers to learn and discover more about each brand, along with a video installation by Oak & Acorn. In addition to the NYC flagship, brands are available at select Nordstrom stores and

“We’ve long believed that we’re all made better by the diversity that exists within our communities,” said Chris Wanlass, Nordstrom vice president and general manager for New York City Stores. “We are committed to improving the diversity of the vendors we partner with across all parts of our business which will help us better serve the needs of our customers. We’re showcasing a curation of the Black-founded and -owned brands we carry and giving them our highest level of exposure by amplifying their voices through Center Stage at our New York City flagship.”

Back in August, the fashion retailer set a series of goals to address its most pressing opportunities related to diversity, inclusion, and belonging. Among other things, these goals address increasing Black and Latinx representation among its managers by at least 50 percent; delivering $500 million in retail sales from brands owned by, operated by or designed by Black and/or Latinx individuals; and increasing charitable donations to organizations that promote anti-racism to $1 million per year for the next five years.

“These goals represent the next phase of our journey to be a better company, not the finish line,” said Farrell Redwine, senior vice president of Human Resources at Nordstrom. “We’re committed to doing the work, being transparent about our progress, listening to feedback, and holding ourselves accountable.”