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CFDA reveals new initiatives to fight systemic racism within fashion

Published
Jun 8, 2020
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The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has announced a series of new initiatives, in an effort to counteract systemic racism within the fashion industry. 


CFDA


"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 CFDA said in a statement from chairman Tom Ford and president and CEO Steven Kolb. 

"Having a clear voice and speaking out against racial injustice, bigotry and hatred is the first step, but this is not enough. This is a deeply disturbing moment that speaks to us all. Our world is in deep pain. Our industry is in pain and it is not enough to simply say that we stand in solidarity with those who are discriminated against. We must do something."

The first two initiatives of the plan, launched on June 4, focus on creating what the CFDA called "a racially balanced industry."

To start, the CFDA will create an in-house employment program specifically focused on placing black talent in all sectors of the fashion business. This program will work to identify individual black creatives and pair them with companies looking to hire, the CFDA said.

The second initiative involves the creation of 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 also make a 'Diversity and Inclusion' training program available to its members. 
 
Finally, the organization said it will make immediate contributions and take up fundraising activities in support of organizations that advocate for the black community, including the NAACP and Campaign Zero, among 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 within the industry," the CFDA said. 

Ford, who was appointed as the CFDA's new chairman in March 2019, has significantly increased the diversity of the CFDA board, with the appointments of Virgil Abloh, Maria Cornejo, Carly Cushnie and Kerby Jean-Raymond, in September last year.

The appointments followed Ford's decision to add model Paloma Elsesser and Vogue.com fashion news director Chioma Nnadi to the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Selection Committee in March. 

In 2018, there were only 15 Black members of the CFDA, a number which has since increased to 19 out of a total of 477 members. 

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