Has the Fashion Industry Kept Its Diversity Promise?

Has the Fashion Industry Kept Its Diversity Promise?

10/18/2021 3:27:00 PM

Has the Fashion Industry Kept Its Diversity Promise?

From execs to makeup artists, insiders discuss whether they’ve noticed more inclusion of Black talent.

published in April highlights quite plainly the executive level’s response to members of the press inquiring about fashion’s diversity problem: only allowing interviews via email or questions in advance, relying heavily on PR jargon to describe their diversity initiatives, and completely shying away from sharing hard numbers.

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Specifically, a set of questions sent to the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) via email (a phoner was not possible due to a scheduling conflict, according to their rep) didn’t reveal much in the way of measuring exactly how far along the company has made strides on diversity.

The response eventually came from CFDA president CaSandra Diggs herself. Diggs was appointed in August of last year, the first Black person to assume the role in the company’s 59-year history. She pointed out the limits of quantifying by race: “While I understand the desire to focus on numbers to keep companies accountable, the primary focus on quotas, which emphasize quantity over quality, does little to help usher in the sea change,” she said via email. “Quotas can undermine the confidence of Black talent and erode their true value to companies as their presence is branded ‘tokenism.’” headtopics.com

Precious Lee walks the runway for Christian Siriano’s spring/summer 2022 show.Mike CoppolaGetty ImagesShe isn’t totally wrong, but it’s difficult to measure progress without focusing on the numbers. The tech industry also has a poor reputation on the diversity front, but giants like Google have

easily accessible databreaking down the racial makeup of their employees. That level of transparency would be a step in the right direction.The job of holding fashion companies accountable has unfortunately fallen to the very people who have had to claw their way to the top.

, which was founded byThe Cuteditor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner and publicist Sandrine Charles, is focusing on a top-down approach to ensuring brands keep their word. Founded last year, the organization is made up of professionals with varying roles in the industry. Though strategy differs from company to company, according to Wagner, “with every single one, we have quarterly calls to go over specific initiatives that they have put in writing.” In addition to providing guidance to companies, Black in Fashion Council hosts job fairs, town halls, and showrooms featuring Black designers.

The increase in interest for working with the Black in Fashion Council can be attributed to the fact that “companies are seeing what we’re doing and we have tangible results,” said Charles, adding that she thinks brands “want to be a part of the change we’re trying to make.” headtopics.com

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When asked about its company goals or benchmarks it would like to reach in terms of the amount of Black talent represented, LVMH responded via email: “LVMH’s goal in the U.S. is to increase the representation of people of color (inclusive of Black talent) in senior leadership positions to 30 percent (versus 26 percent currently), while our employee base is 64 percent non-white (including 12 percent Black talent).” It’s also worth noting that companies are not allowed to gather diversity statistics in many European countries, including France and Italy.

Read more: ELLE Magazine (US) »


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