Following a board meeting on June 2nd, the Council of Fashion Designers of America shared a statement today signed by its chairman, Tom Ford, and CEO, Steven Kolb, that outlines a number of initiatives designed to work toward achieving racial equality in the fashion industry. In a moment when many large brands and conglomerates have been staying silent, sharing vague platitudes on social media, or dragging their feet when it comes to donating money, the letter and initiatives outlined signal a step in the right direction. It’s also a rare example of explicit recognition of the issues faced by black people in the industry and the US at large.
“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,” the letter states. “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.”
They also added in no uncertain terms that it is not enough to simply speak out or stand in solidarity. The statement described a number of initiatives, which will go into effect immediately: an in-house employment program to place black creative talent in all sectors of the industry by matching them with companies that have open positions, an internship and mentorship program to place black students and recent graduates in programs at established brands, and the implementation and dissemination of Diversity and Inclusion training programs for all members of the council. They also shared that they will be urging members to take stock of their corporate structure and products to ensure that they are representative of the black talent in the industry.
In an additional show of support, the CFDA will make immediate contributions to the NAACP, Campaign Zero, and other organizations doing important social justice work.