It's no secret that fashion is one of the most problematic industries in America. At the start of June, there was a wave of challenges issued to boardrooms across the world to diversify their companies from the ground up. After the incredible turnout for Blackout Tuesday, the momentum for black lives seemed to dwindle. Unfortunately, the accountability and ally-ship previously preached seems like a memory of years past.
Equality, at all levels and across all industries, is something that needs to be done more often. It's a dance we have to keep participating in and perfecting as we go. The momentum has been surrounded around black joy, not the loss of black lives. While the trends fade, the real work does not. Here are three initiatives that are determined to change the space of fashion for black people.
Founded by Aurora James of Brother Vellies, this pledge was created to continue the conversation about the black community and the black dollar. Black people make up, roughly, 15% of the population; the pledge calls to replicate that on the shelves of major retailers.
There's a difference between a black business and a black-owned business. A black-owned business puts the profits directly back into the black family; a business geared towards black people, not so much. The profit of the black dollar has to stop without the participation of black people. The black community is constantly discarded, even though black culture stimulates the American economy. With the 15% pledge, this directly impacts the black families across the country at a substantial level.
So far, juggernaut companies like West Elm, Rent The Runway, and Sephora have committed to the pledge. There's still work to do, though, as a lot of retailers haven't accepted the challenge.
You can sign the pledge here and you can see what other retailers have taken the pledge.
The Kelly Initiative
It seems archaic but sometimes, it all starts with a letter. The Kelly Initiative started with a letter to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CDFA) from around 250 fashion professionals, accusing the organization of permitting "exploitative cultures of prejudice, tokenism, and employment discrimination to thrive." The letter belabors the point of inclusivity, how the black community will no longer be complacent, and a challenge to CDFA to transform their ways. It called for further action to help ensure industry transparency, accountability, and inclusivity at all levels. Signees include fashion historian Shelby Ivey Christie, celebrity stylists Ty Hunter and Jason Bolden, and Cosmopolitan editor Julee Wilson.
The Kelly Initiative is named in honor of Patrick Kelly, a Black designer and first American to be admitted into the Chamber Syndicale du Pret-a-Porter in 1988. The initiative will also curate an annual report, The Kelly List; a list of 50 Black professionals that epitomize "top-tier talent" in the industry. While the CFDA released its own statement regarding the lack of diversity within the organization and the industry as a whole, The Kelly Initiative called these steps "insufficient". The letter challenges the CFDA to do more and ended by saying:
"From tailoring bodices to merchandising e-boutiques, from convening brand-summits to boldly helming boardrooms, never again will it be questioned; WE MATTER. #BlackLivesMatter."
The Black in Fashion Council
Founded by Teen Vogue EIC Lindsay Peoples Wagner and public relations specialist Sandrine Charles, The Black Fashion Council's mission is the advancement of black people, specifically in the fashion and beauty spaces. With over 400 professionals across the different verticals of the industry, this initiative operates similarly to Pull Up or Shut Up. By partnering with the Human Rights Campaigns, the council will create an equality index score to benchmark and release an annual report card for corporations that have signed the three-year commitment pledge.
"The Human Rights Campaign already has a Corporate Equality Index for people with disabilities and the LGBTQ community that companies like Kering are already a part of," Peoples Wagner says. "This would be a way to continue to give companies a report card of accountability without them feeling like they're being shamed into it, and giving them the actual resources of what people are saying they want to see changed."
Companies can sign the pledge here.
Are you a member of our insiders squad? Join us in the xoTribe Members Community today!
Featured image by Shutterstock