Those still leaning on the story line that it’s difficult to find Black professionals in fashion may soon be running out of excuses.
On Tuesday, Color of Change and IMG’s #ChangeFashion, along with the Black in Fashion Council, launched what is being called the “first directory focusing on increasing opportunities for Black professionals in the fashion industry.”
Established earlier this month, the #ChangeFashion initiative — a joint effort among racial justice organizations Color of Change, IMG, BIFC and model and actress Joan Smalls — aims to help solve fashion’s exclusivity problem with a road map and resources for racial equity. The directory is the first such resource to be released.
It’s the beginning of facilitating change.
“Change is up to us. That’s why the BIFC x #ChangeFashion Directory is so critically needed,” Amity Paye, Color of Change senior director of communication, told WWD. “Not only is this the first-ever resource that can move the fashion industry to actually hire Black people and talent, but this is an example of how Black people can show our power. With this tool we are advocating for true justice and showing what ‘better looks like’ by creating a real solution that can truly diversify the industry.”
The directory contains profiles and résumés of more than 300 Black industry professionals — from photographers to makeup artists, set designers and more — spanning locations globally.
“Along with being a resource for any brand committed to addressing historical racism and systemic inequality, the directory aims to help fashion organizations and companies truly change the status quo, break patterns and set new norms that empower, finance and reward Black people in the industry,” Paye said.
It’s about getting beyond performative activism and the slowed conversations around racial representation and inclusion to ensure 2020’s push doesn’t become a thing of the past. And to ensure there are fewer and fewer reasons for brands to blame for stagnation.
“Too often, we hear from brands that they can’t find Black talent or that their Rolodex of talent needs to be more inclusive, but they don’t know where to begin,” BIFC co-founders Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles, said in a joint statement. “We are incredibly passionate about eradicating this problem and being a resource for companies to use a more diverse roster of talent and know that resources like this will make a significant impact in the industry.”
As of now, the directory will only be made available to companies that have signed on to the #ChangeFashion Roadmap. To do so entails signing a memorandum of understanding with Color of Change, completing an intake form, getting tailored road map commitments and agreeing to a work plan that Color of Change will help those signed on work through — including monthly check-ins and an annual progress report. Then it’s about tapping into #ChangeFashion’s resources and aligning with like-minded community members to fight against racism.
For those participating, the directory will be available at bifcandcocdirectory.com.
“#ChangeFashion was launched to support racial justice within the fashion industry, and as part of that support, we understand the importance of providing companies and decision-makers with the necessary tools to take action toward equity. The recent In the Blk showcase at NYFW was an example of how the #ChangeFashion inclusion rider could be put into practice, and the directory is another important piece of the larger puzzle,” Romola Ratnam, senior vice president of social impact at Endeavor (which owns IMG), told WWD. “Creating resources and tools — and making them publicly available — will push the industry forward and diversify the talent in front of the camera and the people behind the scenes who work to make campaign shoots, editorials and runway shows possible. When you eliminate the excuses of not knowing where to look we are all better able to hold those in power accountable.”
And accountability does not time out when the scrutiny subsides.
“Fighting racism is not merely the trend of the season,” Paye said. “You have to be in it for the long game, and creating tools like the Black in Fashion Council x #ChangeFashion Directory is a first step to advancing racial equity in and providing access to the fashion industry.”