Actively Black Black Panther 2 Designer Interview


As POPSUGAR editors, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you’ll like too. If you buy a product we have recommended, we may receive affiliate commission, which in turn supports our work.

“Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” is a blowout success, topping the box office for the fourth weekend in a row. But beyond the movie theater, its footprint is ever evolving, even expanding into the world of fashion. Most recently, Marvel Studios partnered with activewear brand Actively Black on a Wakanda Athletics capsule collection inspired by the movie.

The collection includes two installments available now: Classic, a nod to collegiate apparel from Wakanda University, as well as Performance, an ode to the power source vibranium, found in Wakanda. A third and final drop will launch on Dec. 25. It’s composed of wearable pieces for both men and women, ranging from sizes XS to 3XL and S to 4XL, respectively. Crafted from high-quality tech fabric and rendered in colors like gray, purple, and black, Wakanda Athletics features an array of activewear staples. Think joggers, hoodies, shirts, and fitness accessories.

“Black designers and creators serve as a blueprint, but we don’t reap the full benefit of our genius. Actively Black is not asking for a seat at the table; we built our own.”

Deeply moved by “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”‘s portrayal of Black excellence, innovation, and ownership, Actively Black founder Lanny Smith saw the partnership as a perfect fit. “I remember the feeling of pride after seeing the movie for the first time, and in creating Actively Black, it has always been important to me that our brand emulate that feeling for our customers and community,” he tells POPSUGAR. Smith envisions moviegoers experiencing “the work of revolutionary Black talent on the big screen, while also wearing clothes that are not only designed by a Black-owned brand, but are also a representation of Black style and culture and greatness.”

Black ownership is especially important to Smith, who announced the brand on Juneteenth 2020 and already boasts fans like Meagan Good and Romeo Miller. “Black designers and creators serve as a blueprint, but we don’t reap the full benefit of our genius,” he says. “Actively Black is not asking for a seat at the table; we built our own.”

Ahead, Smith opens up about Actively Black’s origin story, the enduring impact of Black Panther, his journey toward entrepreneurship, and more. Keep reading for the full interview and to shop select pieces from the collection.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.