Less than two weeks before the second anniversary of George Floyd’s death, which produced a global count of racism and policy brutality, and on a small but even visible measure, a lack of diversity. within the fashion industry, an impressive range of talent, including Balmain’s creative director Olivier Rousteing, gathered at the Parsons School of Design to examine part of the calls for change being made by brands, and more.
The panel, titled “Fashion’s Diversity: Where It Stands, Where It Stalls, Where It’s Going,” was moderated by WWD executive editor Tara Donaldson and also featured Brandice Daniel, CEO and founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row and Icon 360, and Victor Glemaud, creative director and founder of In the Blk. It starts with checking the wrist:
“Are you happy? Are you tired? ” Donaldson asked.
Glemaud first replied: “All of the above.”
Clearly the Black community has had mixed emotions in our recollection of the past two years. As Daniel noted, black women have largely been wiped out by history over many centuries. He quotes Ann Lowe, the couturier who made Jackie Kennedy’s wedding dress and was not known for much of her work after she was not given any recognition from the former First Lady. “We need to continue to share the stories of incredible black people in fashion,” he told the mostly black audience, who nodded in agreement, shouting confirmations like “yes” and “weather!”
The panelists pointed out that progress has been made. “We are all here today to fight and make sure the world can be a better place,” Rousteing added, before indulging the audience with his own story about growing up as the adopted child of a French couple. in Bordeaux and “just became Black. person at the fashion show” before heading to one of the biggest fashion houses. “Every day I fight in my career,” he said, adding, “the French like not to talk about anything. ”Rousteing’s upbringing was the subject of a Netflix documentary, Wonder Boy; referring to the film, he later said, “Behind all this beauty is a man who has gone through what he has gone through.”
All panelists agreed on the need to pressure brands to renew the commitments they made in June 2020, when many posted black boxes on their Instagram feeds. Aurora James ’Fifteen Percent Pledge and consulting agencies like 2BG (2 Black Girls), founded by former fashion editors Danielle Prescod and Chrissy Rutherford, continue to hold companies accountable for their aim at representation. Daniel stressed the importance of making quantitative commitments, as James did by asking businesses to donate 15 percent of their shelf space to Black-owned brands, to invest in the future. Glemaud stressed the need to create more employment opportunities for people of color.
So, after a race count, where are we?
“[George Floyd] We are allowed to examine and be honest about what has happened in the history of Blacks, not only in fashion, but in history, and to examine the people, ”Glemaud said. Rousteing added: “We need to make sure that tomorrow’s world is not a repetition of yesterday’s world.”
Let’s make sure of this.
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