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On March 11, the New York Times fashion director Vanessa Friedman and industry leaders such as Olivier Rousteing and Pierpaolo Piccioli will discuss how the industry can make real change.
But there is still a very long way to go
When it comes to the power structure of established brands and the designers they represent, the representation of black is incredibly small.
Of the 64 brands we have contacted, only Off-White has a black CEO – and this man, Virgil Abloh, is also the founder.
Of the 69 designers or creative directors at these companies, only four are black. (One of them, Mr. Abloh, runs two brands: Off-White and Louis Vuitton menswear; the others are Olivier Rousteing of Balmain, Rushemy Botter, co-designer of Nina Ricci and Kanye West.) That number has only shrunk by one when LVMH and Rihanna took a break from their Fenty fashion house. A black woman was at the helm of a major Parisian luxury brand. Now there aren’t any.
Five top designer jobs have been created since the summer. Four went to white men and one to Gabriela Hearst, a Latina woman from Uruguay.
And of the brands we looked at, only six and three of their parent companies partnered with the Black in Fashion Council. These companies are all American, although the Council works with other international organizations.
Of the 15 listed companies in this group, seven have board members with at least one black director. Of these, two (Capri and Ralph Lauren) have more than one.
Retail companies and magazines are also absent from the black representation in the leadership.
Two of the seven retailers who responded or whose C-suite information was publicly available have a single black member of the executive team. The rest have none.
Two out of nine magazines we examined, including international editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and Elle, are run by black editors-in-chief.
Of the retailers we surveyed, two had joined the 15 percent promise: Bloomingdale’s and, this month, Moda Operandi. One company, MatchesFashion, published its own breakdown of how designers reported their ethnicities themselves – out of 715 designers, 223 had not responded.
From the magazines, Vogue and InStyle have signed the pledge and pledged to hire at least 15 percent black talent, including photographers and writers.