The CFDA Takes Action to Mitigate Racism in Fashion Industry

The CFDA Takes Action to Mitigate Racism in Fashion Industry

The CFDA Takes Action to Mitigate Racism in Fashion Industry

The council is making inroads beyond just an Instagram post.

The council is making inroads beyond just an Instagram post.

Text: Rachel Fried

Across America protestors have taken to the streets after the killing of George Floyd, another unarmed black man whose name adds to a list of murders precipitated by lethally silent racism and long reigning police brutality.

Historically, the fashion industry has waded out public posturing in times of crisis, opting for neutral as an industry failsafe. But, after a June 2 board meeting, the Council of Fashion Designers of America explicitly extended allyship to the black community, stating a roll out of a series of initiatives to actively combat racism within their field.

“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,” Tom Ford, CFDA chairman, and Steven Kolb, CFDA president and CEO, wrote in a statement. “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.”

Fashion has historically capitalized on appropriating the “cool” of black culture, yet the industry pipelines seem to mint generations of leaders who mostly look the same, with Virgil Abloh and Olivier Rousteing standing as the only black men at the creative helm of major houses. The CFDA, seeking inroads towards a greater racial equilibrium, outlines its plans to implement an in-house employment program, where the committee will recruit black creatives to touch all branches of the fashion business. Likewise, a mentorship and internship program will be instituted, to ease the throes black students and graduates face getting their foot in the door at established companies.

Dismantling any remaining bias underscoring the fashion industry is a key point of the CFDA as they institute a Diversity and Inclusion training program that will be implemented and made available to all members of the council. In an added show of support “immediate contributions” will be made to benefit Campaign Zero, seeing to police reform, and the NAACP, whose members seek to uphold their civil liberties at the behest of Congress, amongst other philanthropies that aim to mitigate systemic racism in America.

The letter ends with a call to action for the fashion industry, to consolidate and pivot towards palpable change and inclusion, rather than remaining as it is – notoriously insular. Herein lies the test for fashion.

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