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

  • Marie Claire is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
  • 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.’

    View this post on Instagram

    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. 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. The CFDA outlines initiatives that will immediately be undertaken to create systemic change within our industry: • The CFDA will create 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. • The CFDA will also create a mentorship program and an internship program focused on placing Black students and recent graduates within established companies in the fashion sector. • The CFDA will implement and make available to our members a Diversity and Inclusion training program. • We will make immediate contributions and take up fundraising activities in support of charitable organizations aimed at equalizing the playing field for the Black community such as, but not limited to the NAACP and Campaign Zero – amongst others. We urge each and every member of the CFDA to take stock of their corporate structure to ensure that they have a racially balanced workforce and we challenge the retail sector of the fashion industry to ensure that their roster of brands and their product assortment is representative of the Black talent in our industry. Sincerely, Tom Ford, Chairman Steven Kolb, President & CEO #blacklivesmatter

    A post shared by cfda (@cfda) on

    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.

    Reading now

    Popular fashion stories