Fashion sees the start of a social shift

Can the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s initiatives to fight systemic racism be the start of significant change towards equality in the fashion industry?

Words Adam Bryce
Photography Tyler Mitchell for M Le magazine du Monde

The fashion industry, like so many, is one that suffers from systemic racism and the events, that have occurred over the last 10 days, have made the world address racism in all works of life. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), America’s governing body for fashion, have listened and admitted they have a problem with their system.

And, so, they’re embarking on new initiatives for change as outlined by chairman, Tom Ford, and president, Steven Kolb.

  • The CFDA will create an in-house employment programme specifically charged with placing black talent in all sectors of the fashion business to help achieve a racially balanced industry. This programme will be tasked with identifying black creatives and pairing these individuals with companies looking to hire.

  • The CFDA will create a mentorship and internship programmes focused on placing black students, and recent graduates within established companies, in the fashion sector.

  • The CFDA will implement and make available to members — a ‘Diversity and Inclusion’ training programme.

  • The CFDA will make immediate contributions and take up fundraising activities in support of charitable organisations aimed at equalising the playing field for the black community such as, but not limited to, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and Campaign Zero, among others.

council of fashion designers america

As with any significant shift in social change, it must start somewhere. These initiatives may not solve the historical and systemic issues within fashion, but they signify positive intentions.

Will the British Fashion Council and others, in similar positions, follow suit? With many countries lacking a governing body to oversee change and regulation within fashion, it may come down to casting agents, tertiary education providers, fashion week organisers and media to establish initiatives.

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