How the Black Lives Matter Movement Is Impacting the Fashion Industry

Over the past several months the fashion industry has responded to the ongoing injustices that Black people face in America. Brands and designers have taken it upon themselves to utilize their platforms to create change and spark much needed conversations. 

Creating t-shirts and other pieces of merchandise with powerful messages relating to the Black Lives Matter movement has been the primary way for brands to show their solidarity. Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss released a “Vote or Die” t-shirt to raise money for Rock the Vote, a non-profit organization dedicated to encouraging voter turnout amongst young people.

This collaboration is one of many under the brand’s new “Exist to Resist” platform which launched in September 2020. This initiative will allow Pyer Moss to partner with various social justice organizations to create limited edition products with 100% of the proceeds going to directly to the organization.

Large-scale clothing brands from H&M to Levi’s have pledged money to organizations such as the ACLU, Live Free USA, and the NAACP in light of civil unrest.

The fashion industry has had to look within its own structure to better understand how it perpetuates racism. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) released a statement in early June condemning racism and violence in the country. The organization also provided a detailed breakdown of what they will do as a governing body going forward to promote diversity and inclusion within the fashion industry.

In addition to the changes outlined in the statement, they also declared Juneteenth as a permanent holiday for all CFDA employees.

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Given the deplorable acts of racism and violence that we have seen play out in our country over this past week, our response as an organization was first and foremost on our minds and in our hearts. Black people in this country are reeling from years of injustice stemming from institutional constructs such as slavery, segregation, mass incarceration, police brutality and economic and voter suppression. The Black community is experiencing anger and frustration on top of the effects of the global pandemic that has hit communities of color the hardest. Having a clear voice and speaking out against racial injustice, bigotry and hatred is the first step, but this is not enough. It is not enough to simply say that we stand in solidarity with those who are discriminated against. We must do something. The CFDA outlines initiatives that will immediately be undertaken to create systemic change within our industry: • The CFDA will create an in-house employment program specifically charged with placing Black talent in all sectors of the fashion business to help achieve a racially balanced industry. This program will be tasked with identifying Black creatives and pairing these individuals with companies looking to hire. • The CFDA will also create a mentorship program and an internship program focused on placing Black students and recent graduates within established companies in the fashion sector. • The CFDA will implement and make available to our members a Diversity and Inclusion training program. • We will 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 NAACP and Campaign Zero – amongst others. We urge each and every member of the CFDA to take stock of their corporate structure to ensure that they have a racially balanced workforce and we challenge the retail sector of the fashion industry to ensure that their roster of brands and their product assortment is representative of the Black talent in our industry. Sincerely, Tom Ford, Chairman Steven Kolb, President & CEO #blacklivesmatter

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In a multitude of ways the fashion industry is actively working to combat racism on both a large and small scale. For consumers it’s important to understand the value behind monetarily supporting brands who are not taking from the Black community but are rather giving back and paying it forward.

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