Black Influence Should Be Represented At All Levels Of Fashion.
African Americans have always prided themselves on their clothing. Ralph Lauren Corp. recently paid homage to the elite style of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) with its first all-Black fashion campaign, where the models, photographers, and creative directors are all Black. A multibillion-dollar fashion brand celebrating Black pride, style, and history are extremely rare, and while we applaud this, much more work remains to be done.
Recently, there has been a lot of talk about how we should celebrate diversity. In 2020, we watched on television as the Black Lives Matter movement highlighted the global inequities that Black people face. These injustices are not limited to policing; they also affect the fashion industry, including manufacturing, sales, and advertising.
However, while the world was grappling with the pandemic over the last two years, much to the surprise of the fashion industry, eyewear sales reached a new level of attention. The world has finally begun to see Black fashion designers in a new light.
The fact is that Black people continue to be underrepresented in the fashion industry. This underrepresentation includes a lack of Black people in major fashion houses’ boardrooms and executive teams of major fashion magazines. Despite the growing recognition of the value of diversity, the marketing materials of brands that Black consumers financially support are devoid of people of color.
Furthermore, the lack of Black representation is disheartening given the obvious Black influence on the products produced. For far too long, Black designs and trends have served as a model, but Black people have been excluded from the production, distribution, and display of fashion.
At every level of fashion, legitimate Black influence should be represented. It is not enough to simply include Black models in advertising campaigns. J. Franklin Wood You Specs and Lady E Specs, two Black-owned fashion businesses in our community, are challenging the status quo.
For our eyewear, we hire Black designers, Black executives, and multicultural models. We do this to give people of color the opportunity to thrive at all levels of fashion, as well as to help ensure diverse representation.
Fashion brands must incorporate the voices of people of color at all levels of fashion organizations in order to legitimately represent the populations they serve. While we applaud Ralph Lauren’s HBCU-focused fashion campaign, there is still a long way to go in terms of equity and equality in the fashion industry.
When all fashion brands embrace that representation, we will see the true influence of Black culture on fashion for generations and begin to reverse years of inequity in an industry that takes great pride in reflecting culture.
Content courtesy of Jackson Ville & NFH