NEW YORK, USA.- About 250 black fashion professionals on Thursday filed a strongly worded petition on Thursday, denouncing the situation and racism to the U.S. Council of Fashion Designers calling on the commercial organization to use its status to hold the industry accountable for the recruitment and promotion of black people.
The letter, called The Kelly Initiative, was organized by publisher Jason Campbell, creative director Henrietta Gallina, and writer Kibwe Chase-Marshall in honor of Patrick Kelly, the black designer who was the first American to be admitted to the Chambre Syndicale du Pr’t-a-Porter in 1988.
Signatories include designers Edward Buchanan, Martine Rose and Victor Glemaud; fashion directors Gabriella Karefa-Johnson (Garage), Carlos Nazario (i-D), Tiffany Reid (Bustle Digital Group) and Corey Stokes (Highsnobiety); famous stylist Jason Bolden; cosmopolitan beauty director Julee Wilson; stylist Shiona Turini, Director of Vogue Fashion News, Chioma Nnadi, Virgil Abloh, Kerby Jean-Raymond, Teen Vogue editor-in-chief Lindsay Peoples Wagner, activist Bethann Hardison or designer Aurora James, among others, who also point out that there may be different opinions among professionals as to how to drive change in the industry to the better.
The Kelly Initiative group says that fashion has prioritized “the optics over the genuine pursuit of equity” and that the CFDA “has allowed the exploitative cultures of prejudice, tokenism and labor discrimination to thrive without being sufficiently denounced by the kind of surveillance intervention expected from organizing an industry umbrella”
The petition urges CFDA to conduct a census of industry companies to collect data on the racial makeup of employees at all levels of their organizations, to provide training and prejudice mitigation to managers, and to ask their members to sign a commitment to create recruitment opportunities for black professionals.The letter also requires that fashion recruitment firms that sign the same promise and that their practices be audited by a third party. After collecting industry data, the petition proposes that the CFDA publish it annually to provide benchmarks and record the progress of the actions being requested.
“Our priorities are to ensure that the CFDA represents all of the industry’s needs, including providing more diversity and inclusion,” read the release.
“We will contribute endlessly to the fabric and figurative progress of fashion. Our hands have taken cotton but our minds are also prepared for haute couture and design and today they will take the wheel of our destination within the industry,” the petition says. . “We will no longer be relegated to the back seat, or worse, completely out of the way”