Following the murder of George Floyd and the protests for justice in the deaths of black people at the hands of the police, the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) has launched an initiative to combat systematic racism in the fashion industry.
The not-for-profit trade association of over 450 American fashion and accessory designers released a statement last week in which it outlined its plans in an Instagram post. ‘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,’ it said.
‘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,’ it continued.
The organization proposed a four-step initiative to combat systematic racism within the American fashion industry. The structural measures are as follows:
- 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.
- A mentorship program and an internship program focused on placing Black students and recent graduates within established companies in the fashion sector.
- A Diversity and Inclusion training program available to all members.
- 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.
The open letter was signed by CFDA CEO Steven Kolb and Chairman Tom Ford and ended with the BlackLivesMatter hashtag.