In the wake of the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and many, many others, in the midst of the national and international outcry against police brutality and racism in the United States, the fashion industry has taken a long-overdue look at its own history of excluding the black community. That exclusion has come in many forms, whether by labeling sand-colored underwear as “Nude” or discriminating against dark-skinned models, designers, and other black creatives.
Black industry leader Lindsay Peoples Wagner, Teen Vogue‘s editor-in-chief, and Sandrine Charles, a public relations consultant, have taken initiative to create change with the Black in Fashion Council. This Council was founded, according to its home page, to “represent and secure the advancement of black individuals in the fashion and beauty industry,” and to create “a world in which black people in fashion and beauty spaces can be open and honest, guaranteed equal rights, and be celebrated for our voices.” To help achieve this vision, Wagner and Charles have partnered with the Human Rights Campaign to create an equality index score that will help hold companies accountable for their policies and practices relating to creating an inclusive environment for black employees. Brands can pledge a three-year commitment to anti-racism across their company, and the Black in Fashion Council will release a yearly public report documenting the work that those companies have done.
This Council’s emphasis on accountability has the potential to create real, much-needed change in fashion, and, if successful, that emphasis is something other industries will be able to emulate as they, too, take steps to deliberately dismantle systemic racism.