MILAN – Luxury fashion brands suffered a resounding setback as they tried to align themselves with the feelings of the majority of users on social networks and stand in solidarity with the protests of the anti-racism movement Black Lives Matter.
Transgender model and actress Munroe Bergdorf accused L'Oreal's posts for #BlackoutTuesday (Tuesday's network protest Tuesday) of hypocrisy after firing her three years ago when she complained about racism using strong vocabulary. American actor Tommy Dorfman – who appeared in a recent campaign for Salvatore Ferragamo – accused the Italian firm of having a “homophobic and racist work environment.”
His followers on Instagram and Twitter joined the allegations, challenging the fashion houses to do more than publish symbols of support in their virtual spaces, to make, instead, that the catwalks, magazine covers, boardrooms and creative studios show real support for diversity.
Global fashion brands have been criticized before for racial issues, such as when Gucci had to remove a knitted garment because it gave the impression of being a blackface (a form of makeup that stereotypes black people), or for decoration. Prada's Black Sambo for handbag, and anti-Asian comments by Dolce & Gabbana.
Protests in the United States against systematic racism, which have spread throughout the world, have also put the focus on fashion and its role as a cultural reference, and this has given courage to speak to people who have had access to this refined circle, some with lucrative contracts that usually assume their discretion.
“People feel the fire behind them ”Said Tamu McPherson, a Milan-based American content creator who collaborates with the largest luxury brands. “Their stories are strong and their voices are heard. If the sector ignores them, they can hold them accountable. Everyone shares and corroborates their stories. "
McPherson has worked with luxury brands in Milan, Paris and New York since 2013, contributing to digital campaigns, stories and internal training on the need to support diversity.
" In Seven years, I am still one of the only black people invited to those spaces. That is unacceptable, "said McPherson, who called for greater racial inclusion in a letter published June 6 on her website" All the Pretty Birds, "in which she described the fashion branch as" steeped in racism. , of actions against the black race and of privileges to the white people. "
" For years they did not want to listen. Now they are hearing because of the pandemic and the shocking killings that we were all able to observe because there was no distraction. This is the moment, "he assured.
Ferragamo provoked a wave of criticism when he responded to the protests with a publication that said:" No one is born hating another person because of the color of their skin, their background or their religion. " Dorfman then accused the leaders of that fashion house of hypocrisy. “They have said heinous, transphobic, body phobic and racist things directly to me. I asked them to attend him every time and they promised to change, "he assured.
A person close to Ferragamo said that the brand is committed to inclusion and stressed that its shows feature models of all races. Almost half of the catwalk models in Ferragamo's Fall 2020 collection were of various races.
Criticism of the industry has had some results. Bergdorf, who was fired in 2017 from her role as the first openly transgender model for L'Oreal in the UK for denouncing “white people's racial violence,” has now accepted a role as a consultant to the Diversity Recommendations Board. e Inclusion of that country to “help influence and shape the brand”. The offer came after he pointed out the hypocrisy of the beauty company that sent a statement on June 1 to express its "solidarity with the black community and against injustice of any kind. … Reporting is worth it. ”
The Fashion Spot, which has reviewed diversity on catwalks and magazine covers in recent years, has detected progress since launching its studio in 2015. The spring 2020 season had the highest level of diversity on catwalks in the four fashion capitals: Paris, Milan, New York and London, with 41.5%, but on the catwalks of autumn 2020 there was a drop to 40.6%. In any case, it is an advance compared to the 17% registered on the site in its first study for the spring 2015 season.
New York and London lead the pack in terms of diversity, while Paris and Milan tend to go more Slow, according to Fashion Spot data.
Following his message, McPherson said he had received feedback from some brands saying it had been shared internally.
"The focus really is on achieving representation from blacks. , Indigenous people and people of color integrated and recruited at all levels of an organization, especially in decision-making positions and in managerial positions where they can advocate, educate and shape decisions, ”said McPherson. “Now is the chance to rebuild.”
After being heavily criticized for designs that were considered racist, Gucci and Prada last year announced long-term strategies to promote diverse voices that have not been adequately represented in fashion, including scholarships .
This time the reflection has reached one of the highest levels of fashion. Celebrity Vogue editor Anna Wintour apologized in an internal email for not doing enough to raise black voices as well as posting images and stories that have been racially and culturally “hurtful and intolerant” during her 32 years in publishing. Her comments came as Samira Nasr was named the first editor-in-chief of color in the 153-year history of the American edition of Harper's Bazaar.
Supermodel Naomi Campbell – the first black woman to appear on the French cover of Vogue – has publicly called for equal pay for color models and more overall representation, while revealing that in the past she had to deal with such matters in private.
“It is not something I denounce because I am personally someone who wants to rise to the challenge, ”CNN said. “In my industry this has been going on for too long.”