University of Fashion Blog

Posts Tagged: "Aurora James"

CELEBRATING EXCELLENCE: THE INTERSECTION OF BLACK HISTORY, ART & FASHION

Black History Month Image. (Photo Credit: Break The Tape Leadership)

As we continue to celebrate Black History Month, we are reminded of the mark that African Americans have left on the arts. Within this kaleidoscope of expression, the realm of fashion emerges as a vibrant canvas where Black visionaries have sculpted history, broke barriers, and have redefined norms. Join UOF as we delve into the world of African American creativity, as we explore the narratives, styles, and some of the individuals who are shaping the fashion industry today.

At the nexus of cultural expression and sartorial innovation, Black designers stand tall, their creations echoing the richness of their heritage while pushing the boundaries of contemporary fashion. Names like Telfar Clemens, Duro Olou, LaQuan Smith, and Christopher John Rogers resonate with a new generation of fashion enthusiasts, infusing their collections with narratives that transcend mere garments, weaving stories of resilience, empowerment, and identity. Join us as we explore these influential persons of color, who are leaving an indelible mark on the fashion landscape.

TELFAR CLEMENS

Telfar Shopping Bag. (Photo Credit: Telfar)

A pioneer of inclusivity and accessibility, Telfar Clemens has revolutionized luxury fashion with his unisex designs and iconic Telfar Shopping Bag, also called the “Bushwick Birkin,” the brand’s best-selling item. His eponymous label, Telfar, stands as a testament to his commitment to democratizing style and celebrating individuality.

AURORA JAMES

Aurora James and her Brother Vellies Shoes. (Photo Credit: Dre Bless)

Founder of the 15 Percent Pledge, Aurora James has emerged as a leading voice for diversity and representation within the fashion industry. Through her advocacy and her brand, Brother Vellies, James champions BIPOC designers and artisans, amplifying their voices and ensuring their inclusion on the global stage.

OLIVIER ROUSTEING

Cher with Olivier Rousteing Closes Balmain Spring 2023 Runway Show in Custom Jumpsuit. (Photo Credit: WWD)

As the creative director of Balmain, Olivier Rousteing has redefined luxury with his opulent designs and boundary-pushing aesthetic. With a focus on diversity and empowerment, Rousteing has transformed Balmain into a symbol of inclusivity and modernity.

DURO OLOWU

A look from Duro Oolowu’s Spring 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Renowned for his eclectic prints and masterful use of color, Duro Olowu celebrates the beauty of diversity in every stitch. His eponymous label reflects his global perspective and unwavering commitment to craftsmanship, earning him accolades from fashion insiders and enthusiasts alike. Oh, and did you know he is married to Thelma Golden, the director and chief curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem, the world’s leading institution devoted to visual arts by artists of African descent.

KENNETH IZE

A look from Kenneth Ize’s Fall 2023 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Drawing inspiration from his Nigerian heritage, Kenneth Ize infuses traditional textiles with a contemporary twist, creating vibrant and dynamic collections that celebrate African culture. His innovative designs have garnered international acclaim, positioning him as a rising star in the fashion world.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN ROGERS

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Pre-Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

With his bold use of color and theatrical silhouettes, Christopher John Rogers captivates audiences with his unapologetic celebration of joy and self-expression. His eponymous label reflects his belief in the transformative power of fashion, empowering individuals to embrace their true selves.

LAQUAN SMITH

A look from LaQuan Smith’s Fall 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

From dressing global icons to redefining notions of sensuality and empowerment, LaQuan Smith is a force to be reckoned with in the world of fashion. His eponymous label exudes confidence and sophistication, embodying the essence of modern glamour.

VICTOR GLEMAUD

Designer Victor Glemaud walks the runway with a model from his Spring 2023 Show. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Championing knitwear as a canvas for self-expression, Victor Glemaud creates luxurious and versatile pieces that blur the lines between fashion and art. His inclusive approach to design celebrates diversity and individuality, inspiring a new generation of knitwear enthusiasts.

THEBE MAGUGU

A look from Thebe Magugu’s Spring 2024 Collection. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Hailing from South Africa, Thebe Magugu infuses his designs with storytelling and symbolism, exploring themes of heritage, identity, and empowerment. His eponymous label reflects his commitment to social commentary and cultural preservation, earning him acclaim from critics and consumers alike.

TORISHEJU DUMI

Naomi Campbell walking the runway for Torishéju Dumi’s spring 2024 collection in Paris. (Photo Credit: Torishéju Dumi)

With her avant-garde designs and sculptural silhouettes, Torisheju Dumi pushes the boundaries of fashion, creating wearable works of art that defy convention. Her visionary approach to design reflects her belief in the power of fashion to inspire and transform.

A SHOUT OUT TO THE QUEEN BEAUTY MOGUL

Widely regarded as one of the most influential makeup artists of all time, Pat McGrath has revolutionized the beauty industry with her visionary artistry and boundary-pushing creativity, she is also deemed the most influential makeup artist in the world by Vogue magazine. As the founder of Pat McGrath Labs, she has created a cosmetics empire that celebrates diversity and empowers individuals to express themselves through makeup.

Social media has been a hotbed of speculation about how Pat McGath created the waxen shiny skin on models for the Maison Margiela couture show. (Photo Credit: Pat McGrath Labs)

In the world of haute couture, innovation and artistry reign supreme. Pat McGrath’s collaboration with Maison Margiela for their Spring-Summer 2024 show exemplified the pinnacle of creativity. With her masterful use of color, texture, and technique, McGrath transformed the faces of the models into living works of art, each one a testament to the beauty of individuality and self-expression. “The legendary creative transformed models into living dolls, complete with porcelain skin, pencil-thin eyebrows and strikingly shaded eyes, lips and cheeks. But it was the waxen, glazed complexions she created that really stole the show, spawning countless pieces of magazine analysis and TikTok tutorials, some of which have already amassed millions of views”, according to CNN.

As we celebrate Black History Month, let us honor the contributions of these trailblazing designers and visionaries who continue to shape the future of fashion. Their creativity, innovation, and unwavering commitment to diversity and inclusion serve as a beacon of hope and inspiration for generations to come, reminding us of the transformative power of art and the enduring legacy of African American excellence.

In the words of Maya Angelou, “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.” Let us celebrate the metamorphosis of Black creativity, embracing the myriad hues of expression that adorn our world, enriching it with depth, vibrancy, and soul.

So, tell us, how are you supporting the 15% Pledge?

IS THERE EQUITY, EQUALITY & DIVERSITY IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY?

According to The New York Times, Tracy Reese is perhaps one of the best-known African-American Female designer. (Photo Credit: Model D Media)

As Women’s History Month comes to a close, we thought we’d explore the origin of Woman’s History month, showcase some of the talented female designers from diverse ethnicities and shed light on equality and equity (or lack of) as it pertains to the fashion industry. According to a 2022 Council of Fashion Designers of America study entitled The Glass Runway, “while the vast majority of students who obtain a degree in fashion are women, men still dominate the industry.” The study concluded that “of the top 50 fashion houses in the world, only 14% of them are run by female executives.” In the Unites States, the most common ethnicity of fashion designers is White (63.0%), followed by Hispanic or Latino (11.9%), Asian (11.6%) and Black or African American (7.3%), as reported by Zippia, a career database. Looks like there is a lot of room for improvement in our industry when it comes to gender, race and ethnic equity and equality.

Before we dive in to this hot topic, here’s some history behind Woman’s History Month:

Women’s History Month 2023. (Photo Credit: PR Daily)

  • The origin of celebrating women dates back to 1911 with the first International Women’s Day, which advocated for women’s rights and suffrage.
  • Following a lobbying effort by the National Women’s History Project (NWHP- an organization founded in 1980 by a group of women historians), Women’s History Week was first celebrated in 1982, coinciding with the 91st anniversary of the first women’s suffrage march in the United States.
  • After several years of lobbying, Congress passed a resolution in 1987 designating March as Women’s History Month. It is now celebrated in many countries around the world, with a theme chosen each year by the NWHP. The celebration includes events, lectures, and exhibitions to educate people about the accomplishments and contributions of women in various fields, including science, politics, art, and more.
  • The theme for 2023 is Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” The NWHA encourages the recognition of women, past and present, who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling including print, radio, TV, stage, screen, blogs, podcasts, and more. The timely theme honors women in every community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing art, pursuing truth, and reflecting the human condition decade after decade.

Top: Toni Morrison, Maxine Hong Kingston, Jovita Idar, Maya Angelou, Middle: Gerda Lerner, Gloria Steinem, Winona La Duke, Lillian Hellman
Bottom: Betty Soskin, Willa Cather, Gertrude Stein, Marjory Stoneman Douglas (Photo credit: nationalwomensalliance.org)

DIVERSE WOMAN MAKING A MARK IN THE FASHION INDUSTRY

As the fashion industry heeds the call for increased gender equity and diversity in the C-site, the design room, on the runway and in advertising and as women continue to face barriers and discrimination in the industry (with men occupying the majority of leadership positions), we are seeing some an increase in the number of female designers from diverse backgrounds making a name for themselves on their own.

What makes these diverse female fashion designers stand out is their ability to create designs that empower women. They are not afraid to take risks and push boundaries, creating designs that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also challenge traditional gender norms. Their work has been instrumental in shaping the fashion industry and inspiring other women to pursue careers in fashion design.

It is therefore important that we continue to support and celebrate the work of female fashion designers and promote gender equality in the industry. Here are a few female designers breaking down the barriers:

AURORA JAMES OF BROTHER VELLIES

Brother Vellies founder/designer Aurora James in her boutique. (Photo Credit: Kyle Knodell)

Born in Toronto in 1984, designer Aurora James grew up with a passion for fashion and design. She studied fashion design at Ryerson University in Toronto and worked as a designer in Los Angeles and New York City before launching her brand Brother Vellies in 2013. James is a woman of color who has made a significant impact in the fashion industry with her  luxury footwear and accessories brand that celebrates traditional African craftsmanship. Her designs are inspired by her travels to different parts of the world and incorporate elements of traditional African culture. She has been recognized for her commitment to sustainability, ethical fashion practices and social justice initiatives.

 

Aurora James called her “Tax the Rich” dress for Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez a “powerful message” at the Met Gala. (Photo Credit: The NY Post)

One of James’ most notable initiatives is the 15 Percent Pledge, which calls on retailers to dedicate 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses. The initiative gained widespread attention in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, and has been embraced by several major retailers, including Sephora and Macy’s. James was named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list in 2015 and was awarded the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2015.

STELLA JEAN

Haitian-Italian fashion designer Stella Jean. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Stella Jean is a Haitian-Italian fashion designer known for her unique blend of African and Western aesthetics in her designs. Born in Rome in 1979 to a Haitian mother and Italian father, Jean grew up with a deep appreciation for her mixed heritage. Jean studied at the European Institute of Design in Rome and later worked in the communication industry before transitioning to fashion. She launched her eponymous label in 2011 and quickly gained international recognition for her innovative and socially conscious designs.

Jean’s designs are a fusion of African and Western cultures, blending traditional African textiles and prints with contemporary Italian tailoring and utilizes bold and vibrant colors, mixed prints, and intricate embroideries. Jean has been praised for her commitment to ethical fashion and sustainability, using eco-friendly materials and partnering with artisans in Haiti and Africa to create her collection.

Throughout her career, Jean has collaborated with several fashion brands and organizations, including the Ethical Fashion Initiative of the International Trade Center, which supports artisans in developing countries. She has also showcased her designs at several international fashion shows, including Milan Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week.

A hunger strike makes headlines before Milan Fashion Week 2023 begins. Stella Jean protests lack of diversity in Italian fashion. (Photo Credit: NY Times)

Jean is also an advocate for social justice and women’s rights and uses her platform to promote diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry, highlighting the importance of representation and empowerment for marginalized communities. Her designs have gained international recognition and are worn by several celebrities, including Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Amal Clooney.

MAKI OH

Nigerian-born designer Maki Oh. (Photo Credit: Maki Oh)

In addition to these established designers, there are also several up-and-coming Black female designers who are making their mark. One such designer is Maki Oh, a Nigerian-born designer whose designs celebrate African heritage and culture. Her designs are known for their intricate details and traditional African textile techniques. Her work has been featured in several high-profile fashion shows, including New York Fashion Week and Paris Fashion Week. She is considered one of the most exciting new voices in African fashion and has gained international recognition for her innovative designs.

Oh studied fashion design at the Arts Institute of Bournemouth in the United Kingdom before launching her eponymous label in Lagos, Nigeria in 2010. Since then, she has become known for her bold prints, vibrant colors, and intricate embroideries, which often reference traditional Nigerian motifs and symbols. She often uses locally sourced materials, such as Adire (a traditional Nigerian indigo-dyed fabric), Aso-oke (a handwoven cloth), and Ankara (a type of African print fabric) to create clothes that are both authentic and contemporary.

Beyonce rocking a Maki Oh creation. (Photo Credit: The designer’s studio)

In addition to her fashion design work, Oh has also been recognized for her contribution to African fashion. She was named a finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize in 2014 and has been featured in exhibitions at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and the Museum of Arts and Design in New York. Oh’s designs have been worn by several notable celebrities, including Solange Knowles, Lupita Nyong’o, and Beyoncé.

ANITA DONGRE

Mumbai-based designer Anita Dongre. (Photo Credit: Vogue India)

Anita Dongre is a Mumbai-based designer who launched her eponymous label in 1995, focusing on bridal and special occasion wear. Since then, she has expanded her brand to include menswear and ready-to-wear. Her designs are known for their intricate hand embroidery, luxurious fabrics, and timeless silhouettes. In 2015, Dongre launched her sustainable fashion brand, Grassroot, which focuses on supporting local artisans and promoting environmentally-friendly practices using natural materials and traditional handcrafting techniques. Dongre’s designs have been worn by numerous celebrities and she has won several awards for her contribution to the industry.

Looks from Indian designer Anita Dongre. (Photo Credit: Anita Dongre)

Dongre has received numerous awards and recognition for her contribution to Indian fashion, including being named one of the 50 most powerful women in Indian business by Forbes India in 2018. She is also a member of the Fashion Design Council of India and has been a guest speaker at several prominent fashion events and conferences.

MASABA GUPTA

Mumbai-based designer Masaba Gupta. (Photo Credit: India TV News)

Masaba Gupta is another female Indian fashion designer who has been making a mark in the industry. A Mumbai-based designer, Gupta was educated in fashion design at SNDT Women’s University before launching her label in 2009. Her designs are a blend of traditional and contemporary Indian prints and often feature asymmetrical silhouettes with unconventional draping, making her a stand out from other designers in the industry. Gupta has been recognized for her innovative approach to design, thus winning the 2012 Vogue India Fashion Fund award in 2012.

Looks from Masaba Gupta’s Wedding Collection. (Photo Credit: Shaadiwish)

In addition to her fashion design work, Gupta is also a prominent social media personality and has used her platform to promote body positivity and mental health awareness. She has been vocal about her struggles with depression and anxiety and has used her experiences to inspire others to seek help and speak out about mental health issues.

Gupta has received numerous awards and recognition for her contribution to Indian fashion, including being named one of Forbes’ 30 Under 30, in 2012. She has also been featured in several prominent fashion events, including Lakme Fashion Week and Amazon India Fashion Week.

PAYAL SINGHAL

Indian fashion designer Payal Singhal. (Photo Credit: Vogue India)

Payal Singhal is another Mumbai-based designer who launched her eponymous label in 1999 after completing her education in fashion design from SNDT Women’s University in Mumbai. Singhal uses traditional Indian textiles and embroidery techniques, such as Zardozi and Chikankari, but gives them a modern twist with innovative cuts and silhouettes.

Looks from Payal Singhal’s past collections. (Photo Credit: StyleGods)

In addition to her fashion design work, Singhal has also collaborated with several prominent Indian brands, including Coca-Cola and Lakme, to create limited edition collections. She has also been a guest speaker at several prominent fashion events and conferences, including Lakme Fashion Week and India Fashion Forum and her designs have been worn by numerous celebrities .

Singhal has received numerous awards and recognition for her contribution to Indian fashion, including being named one of the 50 most powerful women in Indian business by Forbes India in 2018. She is also a member of the Fashion Design Council of India and has been a vocal advocate for promoting sustainable fashion practices in the industry.

ANAIS MAK

Hong Kong-born Parisian designer Anaïs Mak. (Photo Credit: Prestige)

Anaïs Mak was born and raised in Hong Kong, but today the fashion designer is based out of Paris.  Mak has gained international recognition for her unique and innovative designs that blend contemporary and traditional elements. She launched her eponymous label in 2016, after working for several high-end fashion brands, including Lanvin and Alexander McQueen.

Mak’s designs are known for their experimental silhouettes, bold colors, and unexpected combinations of materials. She often incorporates unconventional fabrics such as PVC and latex into her designs, while also using traditional materials like silk and cotton. Mak is also known for her use of asymmetrical cuts and unconventional draping techniques, which give her designs a unique and edgy look. Mak’s designs have been worn by several prominent celebrities, including Rihanna and Solange Knowles.

A look by Anaïs Mak. (Photo Credit: Luke Casey)

In addition to her fashion design work, Mak is also a trained visual artist and often incorporates elements of sculpture and installation art into her fashion designs. Her background in the arts has given her a unique perspective on fashion, allowing her to create pieces that blur the lines between fashion and art.

Mak has received several awards and recognition for her contribution to the fashion industry, including being named one of the top 10 designers to watch by Vogue in 2018. She has also been featured in several prominent fashion events, including Paris Fashion Week and London Fashion Week.

CELINE KWAN

Singapore-based designer Celine Kwan. (Photo Credit: Prestige)

Celine Kwan is a Singaporean fashion designer who is known for her intricate and innovative designs that combine traditional techniques with modern elements. She launched her eponymous label in 2014, after completing her studies at the Parsons School of Design in New York City.

Kwan’s designs are characterized by their intricate detailing and use of traditional techniques such as embroidery and beading. She often incorporates elements of her Singaporean heritage into her designs, such as the use of Peranakan embroidery techniques and batik prints. Kwan is also known for her use of unexpected materials such as plastic and PVC, which give her designs a unique and edgy look.

Kwan’s designs have been featured in several prominent fashion events, including Singapore Fashion Week and New York Fashion Week.

In addition to her fashion design work, Kwan is also a passionate advocate for sustainable fashion practices. She has collaborated with several eco-conscious brands to create sustainable fashion collections and has been a vocal advocate for reducing waste in the fashion industry.

Looks from Celine Kwan. (Photo Credit: Lifestyle Asia)

Kwan has received several awards and recognition for her contribution to the fashion industry, including being named one of the 30 Under 30 designers in Asia by Forbes in 2017. She has also been featured in several prominent exhibitions, including the Singapore National Museum’s “Century of Light” exhibition in 2019.

EQUITY VS. EQUALITY: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

Maria Grazia Chiuri, creative director at Dior created “We Should All Be Feminists” for her debut collection in 2016. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Over time, female fashion designers have made significant contributions to the fashion industry (ex. Chanel, Vionnet, Madame Grès, Donna Karan, Diane von Fürstenberg, etc.). And yet, access to a top tier design house job remains unequal for women, even though they may have the same training as their male counterpart. That’s inequality. When the fashion industry continues to support a system where male designers are favored over female designers that’s inequity. 

While the industry has slowly become more racially and ethnically diverse (ex. Tracy Reese, Kimora Lee Simmons, Reem Acra, Aurora James, Virgil Abloh), we have a long way to go toward equality and equity, especially when it comes to hiring and promoting female fashion designers. 

Achieving equality and equity in the fashion industry requires a multi-faceted approach that involves various stakeholders: schools, designers, brands, retailers, consumers and industry associations. Here are some strategies that can help:

  • Diversity and Inclusion: embrace diversity and inclusion by promoting and showcasing a range of body types, skin colors and gender identities in marketing campaigns. Fashion brands should also include a diverse range of people in their hiring practices, from models to designers to executives.
  • Equal Pay and Opportunities: The fashion industry should strive to provide equal pay and opportunities for both genders. Women should be represented in all areas of the industry, from design to management positions. Brands should also ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work and that there are no barriers to their career advancement.
  • Sustainable and Ethical Fashion: The fashion industry should adopt sustainable and ethical practices, which benefit both the environment and workers in the supply chain, many of whom are women. This includes promoting fair labor practices, safe working conditions, and using eco-friendly materials.
  • Collaboration and Advocacy: Industry associations, fashion bloggers, influencers, and media outlets can collaborate to promote gender equality in the fashion industry. They can highlight brands that are inclusive and sustainable and advocate for policies that support gender equality.

Promoting diversity and gender equality/equity in the fashion industry requires a long-term commitment. But, by working together we can create a more inclusive and sustainable industry.

What about choosing a female designer to replace Jeremy Scott at Moschino? Care to share your thoughts on the subject?

 

 

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: CELEBRATING BLACK DESIGNERS THROUGH THE YEARS

A dress by Patrick Kelly Fall 1986 Collection. (Photo Credit: The Museum at FIT)

This week’s blog is dedicated to the vast contributions of Africa, Africans and people of African descent to world civilization and in celebration of Black History Month. Many of our UoF readers know how much we love history, so before we honor some of the Black fashion designers that helped shape our industry, we’d like to take a look back at how Black History Month became a global celebration.

The first recorded celebration of Black history in the United States dates back to February 1926, when historian Carter G. Woodson founded “Negro History Week,” to coincide with the birthdays of Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass, two important figures in Black American history. The week was later expanded to a month-long celebration and was officially recognized as Black History Month by President Gerald Ford during the celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976, to bring attention to the contributions of Black Americans and to promote a greater understanding of Black history and culture.

Canada also celebrates Black History Month in February (since 1995) and Belgium celebrates in March (since 2017). In Europe, October is Black History Month and has been celebrated in  the U.K. (1987), Germany (1990), Ireland (2010), Netherlands (2010), France (2018) and in Africa (2020).

Black History Month in the U.S. is observed with a theme chosen by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). The theme is meant to highlight a specific aspect of Black history, such as the Civil Rights Movement, the contributions of Black women, or the role of Black Americans in the arts. Throughout the month there are a variety of events and activities held to celebrate Black history, including parades, cultural festivals, and lectures. The theme for 2023 is “Black Resistance,” and explores how African-Americans have resisted historic and ongoing oppression, in all forms, especially the racial terrorism of lynching, racial pogroms and police killings, since the nation’s earliest days. As recently as Jan. 7, 2023, Tyre Nichols, a young black man in Memphis was brutally beaten and killed during  a traffic stop by five Black police officers.

In 2020, the killing of George Floyd led to the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement. This movement led to subsequent protests and forced many fashion brands and designers to re-examine their practices and their commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity within the industry. The Black Lives Matter movement has had a significant impact on the fashion industry and so has the pandemic. In fact, according to a recent article in Axios:

The last couple of years have ushered in a Black entrepreneurship boom. 

  • In 2021, Black-owned businesses were started at the fastest clip in 26 years, The Washington Post reports.
  • The number of Black business owners was 28% higher in the third quarter of 2021 than it was pre-pandemic, per U.S. News and World Report.
  • Other groups are starting more businesses, too. The number of white business owners was 5% higher in 2021’s third quarter than pre-pandemic, and the number of Latino entrepreneurs was 19% higher. But the biggest change is in Black communities.”

What’s happening: Many Black entrepreneurs across the country used federal stimulus checks to start businesses.

  • The top sector where Black owners are creating businesses is health care, Andre Perry of the Brookings Institution tells NPR. Many of the startups are in home health care, contact tracing, or vaccine distribution.

Reality check: Although many Black entrepreneurs are starting businesses, most of these startups are micro-businesses, where the owner is also the sole employee, Perry tells Axios.

  • Black people represent 14% of the U.S. population, but just 2% of owners of employer firms, which are businesses that employ people, he says.
  • “Wealth is the major driver,” Perry says. Employer firms are bigger and require more capital than many Black small business owners have access to due to racial disparities in who gets loans.

But the effect of the stimulus investment in Black communities can be a lesson, he notes. We shouldn’t just say we need to invest in people during a pandemic.”

We’d like to give a shout-out to the CFDA who, in 2020, for the first time in their 60-year history, recognized three Black designers with top awards: Kerby Jean-Raymond for Pyer Moss, Telfar Clemens and  Christopher John Rogers.

BLACK LIVES MATTER’S IMPACT ON THE FASHION INDUSTRY

A few Black supermodels who changed the fashion game. (Photo Credit: Getty Images, Collage Hello Beautiful)

One of the most visible impacts of the Black Lives Matter movement has been the increased representation of Black models on the runway and in fashion campaigns. The movement has also focused on the lack of diversity with regard to designers, photographers and stylists. In response, many fashion brands and organizations have made commitments to promoting greater diversity and inclusivity in their hiring practices.

André Leon Talley (1949-2022), editor-at-large for Vogue magazine, speaking to a reporter at the opening of the 2016  “Black Fashion Designers” exhibit at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  (Photo Credit: AP Photo)

Edward Enniful editor-in-chief of British Vogue and European editorial director of Condé Nast (Image Credit: The New York Times)

Kerry Washington and CFDA Stylist Award winner Law Roach. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Thanks to the Black Lives Matter movement, there has been an increased focus on supporting Black-owned businesses, including fashion brands and designers. View our lesson by designer Parron Allen and read all about his success story on our blog.

Black-owned brands and designers to know such as, The Brooklyn Circus, Abasi Rosborough, ALLCAPSTUDIO, Albert 1941, Armando Cabral, Blackstock & Weber, Bricks & Wood, Brownstone, Darryl Brown, Denim Tears, Fear of God, G + Co. Apparel, Glenn’s Denim, Golf Wang, Martine Rose, Mifland, Nicholas Daley, Post-Imperial, Public School NYC, Ship John, Southern Gents, Studio 189, Third Crown, Union, and Wales Bonner. (Photo Credit: Gear Patrol)

The movement has also brought attention to the issue of cultural appropriation in the fashion industry. Many designers have been criticized for using elements of Black culture in their designs without giving proper credit or compensation, such as African textiles and handicrafts. In response, many designers have made a commitment to using cultural elements in a more respectful and culturally appropriate way.

In addition, the Black Lives Matter movement has been significant in promoting social justice. Many fashion brands and designers have used their platforms to raise awareness about social justice issues and to promote activism and advocacy. In addition, many brands have made donations to organizations that support Black communities and designers have created collections inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. UoF has been a supporter of Custom Collaborative and Black Fashion World, offering free access to our lesson library to assist their budding Black designers.

While there is still much work to be done, the Black Lives Matter movement has inspired many in the industry to make positive change and promote greater representation for the Black community.

Michelle Obama often supports young Black designers. At President Joe Biden’s inauguration she wore Sergio Hudson. (Photo Credit: The Cut)

BLACK DESIGNERS WHO’VE MADE A MARK ON THE FASHION INDUSTRY

Beginning with Zelda Barbour Wynn Valdes, considered the first African American fashion and costume designer, as well as the first Black designer to open her own New York City shop in 1948, Black designers have played a significant role in shaping the fashion industry. From creating new styles and techniques, to challenging existing norms and pushing the boundaries of what is considered fashionable, Black designers have made a lasting impact on the world of fashion. Here are a few of our favorites, but of course there are many more.

PATRICK KELLY

Patrick Kelly surrounded by models in his looks. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Patrick Kelly (1954-1990) was the first Black designer to be admitted to the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter in Paris. Kelly was known for his bold use of color, print, and texture in his designs and for his innovative use of buttons as a decorative element, a technique that is still widely used today.

STEPHEN BURROWS

Stephen Burrows’ collection for Henri Bendel in Central Park in 1970.Credit. (Photo Credit: Charles Tracy)

Stephen Burrows was the first Black designer to receive international recognition for his work. He is known as the originator of color-blocking, the Lettuce Edge, rainbow jersey dresses and was included in the Battle of Versailles 1973 (when five French designers were pitted against against five Americans). Burrows was the first Black designer to win a Coty Award. He dressed Michele Obama in a matte jersey pantsuit in 2009 and, in 2014, created his third Barbie®doll, Nisha. Burrows received the André Leon Talley Lifetime Achievement Award at an exhibition of his work entitled An American Master of Invention at Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).  

DAPPER DAN

Gucci and Dapper Dan’s Collaboration in 2018. (Photo Credit: Gucci X Dapper Dan)

Dapper Dan was a legendary streetwear designer from Harlem, known for his bold and irreverent designs that fused high fashion with streetwear. He was a pioneer of the “Hip Hop Fashion” movement and continues to inspire designers today.

WILLI SMITH

Willi Smith surrounded by models in his fall 1972 Collection. (Photo Credit: Willi Smith Archives)

Willi Smith was a fashion designer who rose to prominence in the late 1970s and early 1980s. He was best known for his colorful and whimsical sportswear designs, which blended elements of streetwear and high fashion. Smith was one of the first African-American designers to achieve mainstream success and his eponymous fashion label, WilliWear, became popular among both celebrities and everyday consumers. Unfortunately, Smith passed away in 1987 at the age of 39.

BYRON LARS

For famed designer Byron Lars, the Spring 2012 collection was about giving up control! (Photo Credit: Essence)

Byron Lars is an American fashion designer and the creative force behind the Byron Lars Beauty Mark label. He is known for his timeless and sophisticated designs that celebrate the feminine form and his collections often feature structured silhouettes, bold prints, and rich fabrics. Throughout his career, Lars received numerous accolades for his work, including the CFDA Perry Ellis Award for New Talent in 1992 and the DHL Award for Fashion Excellence in 1998. He continues to be an influential figure in the fashion industry and his collections are sold in high-end department stores and boutiques around the world.

VIRGIL ABLOH

In 2017, Virgil Abloh won the British Fashion Award for Urban Luxe Brand for his label Off-White. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Virgil Abloh was a Ghanaian-American designer, artist, and DJ. He was best known for his work as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, as well as for his collaborations with brands such as Nike, IKEA, and Rimowa. Abloh was also the founder and CEO of his own streetwear label, Off-White, which became one of the most influential brands in the industry. He is recognized for his unique creative vision and ability to bridge the gap between streetwear and high fashion. Sadly, the designer passed away on Nov. 28, 2021, of cancer. He was only 41 years old.

OZWALD BOATENG

Ozwald Boateng celebrates Black excellence during London Fall 2022 Fashion Week. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Ozwald Boateng is a British fashion designer who has been at the forefront of promoting Black designers in the fashion industry. He was the first Black designer to open a flagship store on London’s prestigious Savile Row.

TRACY REESE

Tracy Reese returned to her hometown of Detroit to reimagine her approach to making clothes. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

In business since 1998, Tracy Reese is a prominent American fashion designer who has been praised for her use of color and for her partnerships with Barney’s, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Anthropologie. Throughout her 25 years in the industry, Reese has consistently promoted diversity and inclusivity and is a vocal advocate for greater representation of Black designers.

AURORA JAMES

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, wearing a white custom Brother Vellies gown with the words “tax the rich” at the Met Gala with designer Aurora James. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Aurora James is a Canadian-born designer and founder of the slow-fashion brand Brother Vellies. She is known for her commitment to ethical and sustainable fashion and for her use of traditional African techniques in her designs. In 2020, in response to George Floyd’s murder, James initiated a public challenge to retailers to make good on their solidarity promise by dedicating 15 percent of their shelf space — roughly the percentage of the population that is Black in the U.S. — to Black-owned businesses. The 15 Percent Pledge resulted in 400 Black-owned brands added to the inventory of retailers in the U.S.

LAQUAN SMITH

LaQuan Smith and a model in one of his recent designs. (Photo Credit: Grazia Magazine)

LaQuan Smith is a rising star in the fashion industry and known for his daring and provocative designs. He has been praised for his innovative use of materials and his commitment to promoting inclusivity in the fashion world.

FE NOEL

Designer Fe Noel with a few of her designs. (Photo Credit: WhoWhatWear)

Fe Noel is a Brooklyn-based, Grenada-bred designer who has been praised for her use of vibrant colors and has been a vocal advocate for certain causes. For her Spring 2023, in a partnership with financial services organization TIAA, she focused on retirement inequality by creating a corset-bodice gown tiered with $1.6 million in (faux, but entirely real-looking) dollar bills – the amount of potential savings lost for women, per a 30 percent retirement income gap.

OLIVER ROUSTEING

Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing is a celebrity favorite. Here he is flanked by Kim Kardashian and Kendall Jenner. (Photo Credit: AP Images)

Oliver Rousteing is a French fashion designer and creative director of heritage brand Balmain. In 2011, he was appointed creative director, making him one of the youngest creative directors in the fashion industry, as well as one of the first Black designers to run a French luxury house. Rousteing is known for his bold, sexy and daring designs that feature a mix of luxurious fabrics, embellishments, and prints. Rousteing has been praised for his ability to merge contemporary and classical elements, creating collections that are both modern and timeless. He has also been recognized for his commitment to promoting diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry, and for casting a diverse range of models in his fashion shows and campaigns.

TELFAR CLEMENS

Telfar Clemens at home surrounded by his signature handbags, wearing a Telfar track jacket and pants and his own Ugg slippers. (Photo Credit: Harpers Bazaar)

Telfar Clemens is the creative director and the founder of the Telfar Global fashion brand. Born in Liberia and raised in the United States, Clemens began his career in fashion in 2005 and has since become one of the most influential and innovative designers of his generation. Clemens is best known for his unisex and gender-neutral designs that challenge traditional fashion norms and celebrate individuality and diversity. He is also known for his “Bushwick Birkin” bag, which has become a cult favorite among fashion insiders and has been seen on many high-profile celebrities and influencers.

KERBY JEAN-RAYMOND

Kerby Jean-Raymond made history with Pyer Moss Couture Debut during the Fall 2021 Couture shows. (Photo Credit: WWD)

Pyer Moss is a New York-based fashion brand founded in 2013 by designer Kerby Jean-Raymond. The brand is known for its socially-conscious collections that address issues of race, politics, and culture. Jean-Raymond has received recognition for his innovative designs and thought-provoking presentations.

CHRISTOPHER JOHN ROGERS

Chistopher John Rogers (center) was the 2019 winner of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund. (Photo Credit: CFDA)

Christopher John Rogers is a fashion designer based in New York City and is known for his use of bright colors and bold silhouettes.  The young designer gained recognition for his contributions to the industry through awards such as the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award and the Pratt Fashion Visionary Award. His work has been featured in prominent publications such as Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and The New York Times.

As the world continues to debate critical race theory (CRT) and the events of the last decade, which have increased public awareness about things like housing segregation, criminal justice policies and the legacy of enslavement on Black Americans, Canadians and Europeans, the fashion industry continues to do its part by becoming a more diverse institution.

Do you think the fashion industry is doing enough to support Black fashion labels? Let us know on our social media channels Instagram and Facebook

CFDA FASHION AWARDS: FASHION’S OTHER BIG NIGHT

- - Fashion Events

Designer/Stylist Law Roach and Zendaya in Vera Wang, winner of the Fashion Icon Award. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Fashion’s second biggest fashion event (the MET Gala being the first) happened on Wednesday November 10th, the CFDA Awards. Some of the biggest names in fashion attended an in-person extravaganza for industry insiders at the Pool + the Grill, located in the Seagram Building on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The mezzanine, in the back of The Grill, proved the perfect perch from which to ogle the guests. The energy of the night was filled with excitement and awe. All of fashion’s heavy hitters were in attendance, as well as some very well-dressed celebrities.

CFDA Chairman and designer Tom Ford and Dapper Dan, winner of the Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award . (Photo Credit: Vogue)

“I’m so happy to be back at a fashion gathering,” said Tom Ford to Vogue Magazine as he stepped away from cocktails for a moment to reflect on the evening. “I’ve been Chairman of the CFDA for almost three years and this is the first CFDA Awards I’ve been able to host. We wanted it to be much more intimate, but still very chic.”

Hostess Emily Blunt in Christopher John Rogers. (Photo Credit: Shutterstock)

The award ceremony, hosted by British actress Emily Blunt (of Devil Wears Prada fame), was held in front of a live audience and a troupe of celebrity presenters (last year’s ceremony was all digital due to the COVID-19 Pandemic). Some of the honorees were announced ahead of the awards ceremony, such as Zendaya winning the Fashion Icon Award, as well as Anya Taylor-Joy winning the first ever Face of the Year Award.

But, let’s face it, if it weren’t for their fashion stylists, would these gals have won these awards? Case in point, this year’s The Hollywood Reporter Top Stylist of the Year Award went to Law Roach (who also works with Anya Taylor-Joy, Kerry Washington, Tiffany Haddish, Priyanka Chopra Jonas, Aldis Hodge, Tom Holland and Hunter Schafer). Read about the 12 stylists that you should be following on Instagram: https://www.crfashionbook.com/fashion/a36632100/12-stylists-you-should-be-following-on-instagram/

 

Anya Taylor-Joy in Oscar de la Renta and Gigi Burris hat. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Tom Ford’s mission for the 2021 CFDA Awards was to promote the talent that America has to offer. “I’m excited to show how American fashion has impacted the rest of the world, whether the rest of the world is ready to acknowledge that or not,” he said to Vogue Magazine. “That is my goal, to help the rest of the world understand how much they have taken and how much America has given to fashion globally.”

Demna Gvasalia, the creative director behind Balenciaga, and winner of the International Womenswear Designer of the Year Award couldn’t have agreed more with Ford. “American fashion has had the biggest impact it could have on someone like me. I was a Soviet kid who grew up in a country where people didn’t even know that fashion designer was a profession,” he said, holding his CFDA statuette. “The first time I discovered that you could be a fashion designer was when I discovered Tom Ford, when I was 10 or 11 years old. My dream of fashion actually began with discovering Tom Ford.”

Paloma Elsesser and Demna Gvasalia, winner of the International Womenswear Designer of the Year Award . (Photo Credit: Vogue)

“It’s not something I ever could have dreamt of to be here tonight and to have this kind of award,” Gvasalia continued. “I feel like I’ve been fighting for my place in fashion and to receive this award today, it’s like three years worth of therapy in some way. It’s the most amazing feeling, to feel heard, seen, and understood, and that’s what this award represents to me. It’s amazing. I don’t feel alone anymore.”

Feeling seen and accepted was a common theme throughout the night. Emerging Designer of the Year winner Edvin Thompson of Theophilio stated after his win, “It represents my community, Jamaica, and really carving out a space in the fashion industry to tell our stories.”

Sara Ziff, founder of The Model Alliance, and winner of the Positive Social Influence Award. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Sara Ziff, the founder of The Model Alliance, received the Positive Social Influence Award. The award gave the former model the opportunity to continue the discussion around models’ rights. “It’ll be a decade [since I started the Model Alliance] in February so it’s been quite a long road. Of course it’s nice to be recognized, but I wanted it to be meaningful and that’s why I used the opportunity to ask the industry to step up and do better,” she said of the decision to ask Carré Otis and Beverly Johnson to share their stories of abuse in the modeling industry before presenting Ziff with her CFDA trophy. “What keeps me going is I know that we’re on the right side of history,” Ziff stated.

Aurora James received the Founder’s Award in honor of Eleanor Lambert .(Photo Credit: Vogue)

Aurora James, the Creative Director and Founder of luxury accessories brand Brother Vellies, as well as the founder of the Fifteen Percent Pledge (James became an advocate for Black businesses). After receiving the Founders Award in Honor of Eleanor Lambert from Vogue’s Anna Wintour, James reflected on her award. “I am over the moon to receive this award; it means so much. The amount of emotional capital that I spent over the past 18 months working on the Fifteen Percent Pledge and that my whole organization spent relentlessly day in and day out fighting for economic equality—it just feels so incredible to be acknowledged in this way for all the hard work that we’ve done,” she said.

Iman and Zendaya, the winner of the Fashion Icon Award. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

The winner on the Fashion Icon Award, Zendaya, was nearly speechless after receiving her award from Iman, listing the model, Cher, Diana Ross, and her grandmothers among her own fashion icons. “I’m speechless,” Zendaya said with a stunned smile. “I just got an award and Iman gave it to me! I’m still not over that.”

Emily Bode Aujla is the winner of the Menswear Designer of the Year Award. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

The final two awards of the night went to Emily Bode Aujla who won for Menswear Designer of the Year and Christopher John Rogers for Womenswear Designer of the Year. “It’s so inspiring to see all of the change that all of the people in this room have created,” said Bode Aujla as she revealed that she will be opening a west coast store. “Something that I’ve bet on is retail. Our New York store is surpassing our online right now by 30%,” she added.

Womenswear Designer of the Year winner Christopher John Rogers. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Rogers is also focusing on the future of his brand, “The sky’s the limit. We’re really about intentionality at CJR and about moving with purpose. Whatever it is next will hopefully be as impactful and full as what we’re doing now.”

Below is a list of all the winners of the most fashionable awards show:

American Womenswear Designer of the Year: Christopher John Rogers for Christopher John Rogers.

American Menswear Designer of the Year: Emily Adams Bode for Bode.

American Accessories Designer of the Year: Telfar Clemens for Telfar.

American Emerging Designer of the Year: Edvin Thompson for Theophilio.

International Women’s Designer of the Year: Demna Gvasalia for Balenciaga.

International Men’s Designer of the Year: Grace Wales Bonner for Wales Bonner.

Fashion Icon: Zendaya.

Face of the Year: Anya Taylor-Joy.

Positive Social Influence Award: Model Alliance.

Founder’s Award in honor of Eleanor Lambert: Aurora James for the 15 Percent Pledge.

Environmental Sustainability Award: Patagonia.

Geoffrey Beene Lifetime Achievement Award: Dapper Dan.

Media Award in honor of Eugenia Sheppard: Nina Garcia.

Emily Ratajkowski and Nina Garcia, winner of the Media Award in honor of Eugenia Sheppard. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Board of Directors’ Tribute: Yeohlee Teng.

Yeohlee Teng winner of the Board of Directors’ Tribute. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

So tell us, do you agree with the CFDA’s choice winners? And do you think there should be a Best Stylist Award?

THE FASHION COMMUNITY REACTS TO SYSTEMIC RACISM

Protesters gather outside the White House. (Photo Credit: Jim Lo Scalzo for Shutterstock)

A once-in-a lifetime pandemic and a tanking global economy with millions of people out of work provided the backdrop for yet another unthinkable act of racism on May 25th as the world witnessed the senseless killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man at the hands of Minneapolis police. The public’s reaction was swift and decisive. Black Lives Matter!

Despite the pandemic (as of June 11th has caused over 417,829 deaths globally) people took to the streets in the U.S. and around the world in protest of systemic racism. Social media channels exploded and T-shirts were swiftly marketed with the tags:  #BlackLivesMatter, #BLM, #NoJusticeNoPeace, #anti_racist and #icantbreathe.

It didn’t take long for the fashion industry to react, while at the same time, come under the microscope for its lack of diversity and sincerity. Could this moment in history be the  “sea change” that the world and the fashion industry has been waiting for?

Tuesday, June 2nd  became #BlackoutTuesday, whereby all brand/designer social media (SM) users posted a black box and refrained from posting promotional content or selfies, as a way of mourning and calling attention to systematic racism.

On June 3rd, Pulitzer prize winning writer, Robin Givhan of  The Washington Post, herself a woman of colorsent a tweet that reminded the industry of their lack of diversity.

 

Then, on June 4th, the CFDA (Tom Ford and Steven Kolb) published a letter listing initiatives that they planned to create systemic change: 1) create an in-house employment program charged with placing Black talent in all sections of the fashion business to help achieve a racially balanced industry. 2) place Black students in companies for mentorships and internships. 3) implement and make available to their members a Diversity and Inclusion training program 4) make immediate contributions and take up fundraising activities in support of charitable organizations aimed at equalizing the playing field for the Black community such as, but not limited to the NACCP and Campaign Zero – among others.

CFDA supports Black Lives Matter. (Photo Credit: CFDA)

Anna Wintour came out with an apology, for her ‘hurtful’ and ‘intolerant’ behavior at Vogue, (now that’s a first), while Andre Leon Talley challenged Wintour’s statement, citing the news of newly appointed Samira Nasr, the first Black female editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, as catalyst. In other publishing news, Refinery 29’s founder Christene Barberich stepped down as Editor-in-chief in response to accusations of racism and a toxic company culture, while Leandra Medine Cohen announced that she was stepping back from Man Repeller, after readers called her out for a lack of diversity in content and employees.

A June 10th Diet Prada Instagram post challenged retailer Anthropologie’s reaction to racism as ‘beige.’ The post prompted numerous comments that exposed the discriminatory practice of giving code names to POC (people of color) shoppers and lawsuits that called out certain brands and retailers guilty of the practice, such as Moschino, Versace, Anthropologie and Zara. Looks like Robin Givhan is right, the industry has a lot of soul-searching to do.

In the days following the murder of George Floyd, celebrities, athletes, and politicians all stood up and showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. But, are these fashion brands and designers really showing their support or is it just a PR stunt? In an industry that prides itself on being global and multi-cultural, the fashion industry has a duty to its customers and society to use its privilege and power to drive systemic change and fight against racism. Right?

Victoria Beckham shows her support to Black Lives Matter. (Photo Credit: Victoria Beckham)

 

Actions speak loader than words. (Photo Credit: Fashion Nova Cares)

Most messages posted on social media were thoughtful and less PR-centric. However, Louis Vuitton was one of the first to come under fire from consumers. The company was criticized for the “tone deaf” launch of their new handbag line in the middle of the Black Lives Matter movement. Three days later, Louis Vuitton uploaded the following statement to the house’s 38.2 million Instagram followers alongside a video commissioned by men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh: “Make a change. Freedom from racism towards peace together. #BlackLivesMatter.”

Virgil Abloh, here at the 2019 CFDA Fashion Awards, has been ridiculed for a ‘measly’ donation to help Black Lives Matter protesters. (Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES)

But Abloh was not forgiven so quickly. The designer, who is also known as the CEO and brainchild of streetwear giant Off-White, shared on his personal Instagram Stories that he made a $50 donation to Fempower, an organization that is helping arrested Black Lives Matter protesters with their legal expenses.

His followers were outraged. The designer’s estimate worth is over $4 million, and his measly $50 donation couldn’t even buy you an Off-White face mask.

One Twitter user wrote: “So Virgil really donated LESS THAN the equivalent of an Off-White keychain to the bail fund?? Smh wow. Don’t buy his trash, y’all.”

Virgil Abloh, creative director of Louis Vuitton Mens and Designer of Off-White, takes a stand against looters. (Photo Credit: Instagram)

Fashion’s Colin Kaepernick: Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond

Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer of Pyer Moss has always used his collections as a platform against injustices. Here are the bloody boots in his police brutality collection from his
spring 2016 runway. (Photo Credit: Joshua Lott for Getty Images)

On September 11, 2015 – Kerby Jean-Raymond staged a political commentary on police brutality and racism for his Pyer Moss spring 2016 runway show. His shows are and have been a call to action for the Black Lives Matter movement. In 2017, he focused on depression, both personal and cultural. Erykah Badu helped style that collection which brought to light things that keep us down, set to the sounds of a choir singing Future’s “Trap Niggas” and the Black National Anthem, (Lift Up Your Voice and Sing, written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and then set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) in 1899.)

Protesters, Looting & Retailers

While most of the protesters were peaceful, there were agitators that caused chaos and the destruction of churches, monuments, car fires, and store lootings, unfortunately were part of it. No store was safe. Looters destroyed little mom and pop shops in their communities, as well as major department stores and luxury retail brands. Manhattan’s affluent Soho boutiques were ravaged. The city looked like a war zone with broken glass everywhere and boarded up storefronts.

Looters hit luxury retailers, like Chanel and Rolex, in lower Manhattan.( Photo Credit: New York Magazine)

But even with the rioting and looting, designers and brands still supported the Black Lives Matter movement; brands like Nike, Adidas, and Michael Kors lent swift public support to the protests. Plenty of other designers followed, although some lagged in their response and consumers took note.

Michael Kors supporting Black Lives Matter. (Photo credit: @MichaelKors Twitter Account)

 

Stylist Law Roach and Zendaya. Roach took action by starting a fund with his own money to rebuild Black businesses that were destroyed in the protests. (Photo Credit: Teen Vogue)

Jon Batiste (band leader for Stay Human & the  Late Show with Stephen Colbert) at the ‘We Are’ March, New York. City (Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin for Shutterstock)

The protests succeeded in sending the fashion industry a message loud and clear. Consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Zers are the ones to watch. They are faithful to brands that they believe are making a difference. This cohort are focused on movements that work toward the realization of a world where all members of a society, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual preference or religious background, have basic human rights and equal access to the benefits of society. Just as movements of the 20th century spurred change (Woman’s Suffrage, Women’s Liberation, Civil Rights, Anti War, We Are and Gay Rights, to name a few), so too will the 21st century bring change. Movements like Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Times Up, Equal Pay For Equal Work, Gender Equality,  Gun Safety, Marriage Equality, Occupy, Climate Change, Criminal Justice Reform, Indigenous Peoples, Immigration Reform, Pro Life/Pro Choice and the Anti-Racist movement will spur brands into action.

In the world of social media transparency, the fashion industry will have to do more than just speak up for the Black Lives Matter movement. They’ll need to advocate and implement change within their companies and provide support to Black-owned businesses.

Funding opportunities are a great way for the fashion industry to support the movement. Shockingly, to this day, Virgil Abloh (Louis Vuitton) and Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing are still the only Black creative directors at major brands (an abundance, compared to high fashion’s zero BAME CEOs) and Edward Enninful, the only Black editor-in-chief (British Vogue) of a major fashion magazine, until the recent appointment of Samira Nasr announced on June 9th (Harper’s Bazaar).  

Edward Enninful Vogue editor-in-chief (Photo credit: Hypebae)  Samira Nasr editor-in-chief Harper’s Bazaar (Photo credit: The Cut)

On June 10th, Harper’s Bazaar published a list of 10 Black-owned fashion brands to support and invest in.  Other ‘call-to-action’ lists have emerged encouraging consumers on how to support local Black-owned businesses, such as grocery stores, hair salons, clothing stores, etc. Another way to support Back-owned businesses is to write positive reviews of those businesses, follow them on social media, engage in their posts, sign up for their newsletters and tell your friends and family to do the same.

The Industry Puts Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

The trendy direct-to-consumer beauty brand Glossier announced that it would donating $500,000 to organizations fighting racial injustice and another $500,000 to BAME-owned beauty companies. (BAME stands for Black, Asian and minority ethnic).

On the brand’s social media channels, Gucci posted a poem by Cleo Wade, a Black artist who also co-chairs the brand’s Changemakers Council, a group of community leaders backed by $5 million in charitable funding established in the wake of Gucci’s blackface sweater scandal: “We need to end racism. Start by healing it in your own family.”

Gucci has also established a fellowship program which is intended to recruit underrepresented talent from fashion schools for full-time positions. But fashion must make measurable commitments to hire Black people to their senior ranks and not just in their lower-level positions.

Aurora James, a designer and creative director of the shoe label Brother Vellies, created the “15 Percent Pledge,” which calls on major retailers to give that amount of shelf space to Black-owned businesses. (Fifteen percent of the United States population is Black.)

A lookbook image from Brother Vellies. (Photo Credit: Brother Vellies)

James is calling on Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Sephora, Saks, Net-a-Porter, Barnes & Noble and Home Depot to take part.She hopes that her 15 Percent Pledge will “deliver more money to Black communities.”

Amazon stands with the Black Community. (Photo Credit: Amazon)

Sportswear giant Nike committed $40 million over the next four years to support the Black community in the United States on behalf of its Nike, Jordan Brand and Converse labels. The funds will support organizations focused on social justice, education and addressing racial inequality in America, Nike chief executive officer John Donahoe said in a message to the company’s staff.

Internally, Donahoe said, the priority is to “get our own house in order. Simply put, we must continue to foster and grow a culture where diversity, inclusion and belonging is valued and is real. Nike needs to be better than society as a whole. Our aspiration is to be a leader.”

He added: “Systemic racism and the events that have unfolded across America over the past few weeks serve as an urgent reminder of the continued change needed in our society. We know Black Lives Matter. We must educate ourselves more deeply on the issues faced by Black communities and understand the enormous suffering and senseless tragedy racial bigotry creates.”

Nike and Michael Jordan speak out against racism. (Photo Credit: US Magazine)

In a WWD article, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, founders and creative directors of Proenza Schouler said in a statement, “We unequivocally believe any form of racism or discrimination has no place in our word and we proudly stand with the entire Black Lives Matter movement. We affirm our commitment to supporting the entire Black community, both in terms of what we share with the world externally and how our organization is operated internally.” The designers said they are supporting blacklivesmatter.com, naacpldf.org, blackvisionsmn.org, joincampaignzero.org, libertyfund.nyc, and brooklynbailfund.org/donate.

WWD also reported that PVH took part in the National Day of Mourning, which coincided with the memorial services for George Floyd. PVH North America associates from its retail stores, offices and warehouses were invited to observe eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence Thursday, June 4th at 2 p.m. ET during Floyd’s memorial service. In partnership with BRAAVE (Building Resources for African American Voices and Empowerment), PVH has created a task force inclusive of leadership, HR, Inclusion & Diversity, The PVH Foundation, legal and corporate responsibility teams to ensure they are taking the right steps to make the most impact. The PVH Foundation is donating $100,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which supports racial justice through advocacy, impact litigation and education and seeks to achieve structural changes to advance democracy, eliminate disparities and achieve racial justice. It is also donating $100,000 to The National Urban League.

The PVH Foundation will also match 100 percent of North America corporate associate charitable donations throughout the month of June. The company has also compiled resources to help educate itself about racism and bias and will be sharing it with its employees. This includes an Anti-Racism Resource Guide, Associate Check-in Guide, PVH U course offerings, videos, podcasts and articles.

First memorial service for George Floyd held in Minneapolis. (Photo Credit: Fox17)

On June 4th, Columbia Sportswear temporarily closed 95 of its reopened retail stores from 1:00-3:00 PM CDT during George Floyd’s memorial service. “We stand against racism in all its forms, but in this moment, we want to be clear that we are proud to say black lives matter. George Floyd’s life mattered,” the company said in an internal memo from the company’s executive team provided to WWD.

In addition, Columbia said it will make donations to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Marshall Project “to advance our country’s understanding of racism and its root causes and to promote equal justice and opportunity.” It did not disclose the amount. It also said it will double match employee donations to any non-profits focusing on addressing racism, up to $1,000 through the end of July. It then provided a list of organizations such as,  Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, Equal Justice Initiative and the National Urban League.

Tory Burch is making changes within her company. The designer is offering counseling for Black employees and workshops on discussing race and bias for all employees. The company provided a list of resources to help employees educate themselves and their families about race in our society. The company will also work with outside moderators and continue its public work through the Tory Burch Foundation on unconscious bias. The company’s Embrace Ambition Summit focuses on shattering stereotypes and combatting bias in all of its forms, including racial discrimination, by looking at the impact of unconscious bias.

The Kering umbrella, which owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Boucheron, Pomellato, Dodo, Queelin, Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux and Kering Eyewear, have contributed to organizations focused on combating systemic racism and ending police violence toward the Black community across the United States. Kering has also made donations to the NAACP and Campaign Zero, an organization that aims to reduce police violence in the U.S.

And the list continues to grow every day as designers are looking to change the culture of the industry as a whole. By engaging in conversations that address bias and stereotypes in the workplace, by educating employees on how they can support communities and organizations in the fight against racial injustice, by hiring talented Black designers, buyers and CEO’s, as well as supporting businesses owned by Black entrepreneurs. We can all do our part in the fight towards making the fashion industry and the world an inclusive place for all.

It’s time for fashion brands to do more than just make statements. They must commit to doing the hard work it’s going to take to combat racism. Remember, racism is not just an American issue, it’s a global issue.

Juneteenth (Photo credit: mosaictemplarscenter.com) Juneteenth Flag (Photo credit: crreaearch.com)

As we approach Juneteenth (Emancipation Day/Black Independence Day) we will again be reminded of racial injustice. It commemorates the day that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, and read federal orders that all previously enslaved purple were free (2 year after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation). Maybe the campaign to make this day a federal holiday in the U.S.,  instead of a state holiday in only 46 states will come to fruition? Juneteenth celebrations are also held in other countries around the world, including Ghana, Honduras, Japan, Taiwan and Trinidad and Tobago.

University of Fashion has proudly donated to Black Lives Matter, NAACPLDF, Campaign Zero and the Liberty Fund. We will continue to promote Black fashion, fashion designers and instructors on our site and on our social media platforms. Together we can make a difference.

Black Lives Matter protests in Paris, France. (Photo Credit: Alfonso Jimenez for Shutterstock)

 So tell us, what are you doing to make a difference?

 

 

Introducing the CFDA’s Young Guns

Mike Amiri, Kristopher Brock, Nadja Swarovski, Aurora James, and Kerby Jean-Raymond - Photo courtesy of WWD.com

Mike Amiri, Kristopher Brock, Nadja Swarovski, Aurora James, and Kerby Jean-Raymond – Photo courtesy of WWD.com

As fashion educators and bloggers, we have a responsibility to cover important events in our industry—for example, the recent 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards—even when the CFDA honors Kim Kardashian (GASP!) with the CFDA Influencer Award. While we are still a little stumped on that decision, we are thrilled to introduce you to the honored newcomers to the fashion industry – also known as the five nominees for the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent. Read More