Since the death of George Floyd in Minnesota on 26th May, protests have happening across the world, both online and offline, against systemic racism and in support of Black Lives Matter. Many global companies took part in #BlackoutTuesday, including many fashion brands, denouncing racism via Instagram. But for some, this is where it ended, with no announcement on how they would fight racism in their own company or industry. This is where two leaders in the fashion industry decided to form an initiative to confront these issues.
The hashtag #BlackoutTuesday has over 23 million posts associated with it on Instagram, following the initiative set up by the music industry using the hashtag #TheShowMustBePaused to protest the injustices faced by Black people in the USA. On Tuesday 2nd June 2020, users posted a black square, captioned with the hashtag #BlackoutTuesday, as a way of taking a step back from the usual activity on social media channels and instead thinking about racial injustices in the world. Some people also shared links to books, podcasts and documentaries, so that their followers could educate themselves about the subject. Some companies and businesses laid out their plans on what they had learned and what they would do in the future to promote diversity and inclusivity within their brand. For others, the black square was where it ended, and their usual feeds resumed. This includes some brands in the fashion and beauty industry.
This is where two leaders in these industries stepped forward and launched a new initiative, to ensure that these issues are not forgotten. The Editor-in-Chief of Teen Vogue, Lindsay Peoples Wagner, and the owner of Sandrine Charles Consulting, Sandrine Charles, together founded the Black In Fashion Council. This council was created in order ‘to represent and secure the advancement of Black individuals in the fashion and beauty industry’ and to work together as a collective with the aims of creating spaces within these industries, in which Black people can ‘be open and honest, guaranteed equal rights, and be celebrated for [their] voices’.
So far, this collective has been featured by the leading fashion magazines and on news outlets, such as Good Morning America, and has already accumulated over 23,000 followers on Instagram. Their feed so far includes images of Black men and women in the industry and highlights their work and the influence they have had in fashion, whether they were a fashion icon themselves or created iconic outfits. Examples they feature include Zelda Wynn Valdes, who designed and created the original Playboy bunny costume, followed by superstars like Diana Ross, who is a music, style and cultural icon. This feed is celebrating Black men and women in the industry and shows the influence they have made not only in fashion, but in the world. It is ensuring that these incredible people are remembered for their part in the history that they made.
George Floyd’s death has sparked a worldwide movement, but it must be ensured that the momentum is maintained to a make a long-lasting difference. Initiatives, like the Black In Fashion Council, are encouraging their industries to make real change, and to not just follow a social media trend.
You can follow the Black In Fashion Council on Instagram.