SYDNEY — The Australian and New Zealand fashion industries have joined the growing chorus of support for the Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of the May 25 death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police.
Following several solidarity protests in Australia and New Zealand on Monday and Tuesday, fashion companies in both countries have been sharing messages of support for the movement to their social media feeds, often accompanied by the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag.
Participants include global retailers such as Billabong, Zimmermann, the Cotton On Group and New Zealand-American footwear brand Allbirds; pure-play online retailers such as The Iconic, Boohoo Australia and Princess Polly; and smaller designer brands such as Spell & The Gypsy Collective, Karen Walker and Zambesi.
“We are an Australian brand made up of a proud family of diverse voices, ethnicities and cultures. We are privileged to have a voice and a platform. And right now, we have a duty to use our influence and community to speak out against racism, hatred and injustice” the Cotton On Group posted to its @CottonOn and @CottonOn_USA Instagram feeds on Monday, later reposting the same message to number of its other Instagram accounts in Australia, Asia, Africa and Brazil.
“We all have a responsibility to use our voice for change. We stand with our black colleagues, clients, partners and allies today and every day. We see you and are committed to taking actionable steps that bring lasting change,” said IMG’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Australia on Instagram on Tuesday morning Sydney time.
In addition to posting messages of support, Boohoo Australia and Australian online retailer Princess Polly said they had made donations to the NAACP and the Black Lives Matter Global Network, respectively, and encouraged their audiences to participate in the programs. Allbirds announced it had made donations to both organizations.
The U.S. protests have had a particular resonance with Australia’s indigenous community, which accounts for just 3.3 percent of Australia’s population, but makes up 29 percent of the total Australian adult prisoner population, according to Australian Bureau of Statistics December 2019 figures. The disproportionate number of indigenous deaths while under incarceration prompted a Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody from 1987-91 and remains a highly contentious issue.
Since the commissions’s conclusion in 1991, at least 432 indigenous Australians have died in custody, according to Guardian Australia’s Deaths Inside project.