The Council of Fashion Designers of America to fight against systemic racism

(Image credit: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho)

The CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) has pledged to create systemic change within the fashion industry, in the wake of the protests for justice in the deaths of black people at the hands of the police.

In a statement posted during Blackout Tuesday, it said, '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.'

It continued, '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. Having a clear voice and speaking out against racial injustice, bigotry and hatred is the first step, but this is not enough. It is not enough to simply say that we stand in solidarity with those who are discriminated against. We must do something.'

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The CFDA lined out a four-step initiative to create the change it wants to see in the industry.

  • An in-house employment program specifically charged with placing Black talent in all sectors of the fashion business to help achieve a racially balanced industry. This program will be tasked with identifying Black creatives and pairing these individuals with companies looking to hire.
  • A mentorship program and an internship program focused on placing Black students and recent graduates within established companies in the fashion sector.
  • A Diversity and Inclusion training program available to all members.
  • 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 NAACP and Campaign Zero - amongst others.

There is no denying the fashion industry lacks in diversity, and we can all play a part in changing that, for example by investing in black owned fashion brands, and following more black influencers.

The letter will hopefully set the agenda for the future, and lead the way for other designers and fashion councils around the world to follow.

Penny Goldstone

Penny Goldstone is the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire, covering everything from catwalk trends to royal fashion and the latest high street and Instagram must-haves.

Penny grew up in France and studied languages and law at the Sorbonne Nouvelle University in Paris before moving to the UK for her MA in multimedia journalism at Bournemouth University. She moved to the UK permanently and has never looked back (though she does go back regularly to stock up on cheese and wine).

Although she's always loved fashion - she used to create scrapbooks of her favourite trends and looks, including Sienna Miller and Kate Moss' boho phase - her first job was at, sourcing the best deals for everything from restaurants to designer sales.

However she quit after two years to follow her true passion, fashion journalism, and after many years of internships and freelance stints at magazines including Red, Cosmopolitan, Stylist and Good Housekeeping, landed her dream job as the Digital Fashion Editor at Marie Claire UK.

Her favourite part of the job is discovering new brands and meeting designers, and travelling the world to attend events and fashion shows. Seeing her first Chanel runway IRL at Paris Fashion Week was a true pinch-me moment.