Fashion's Race Problem: Is Boycotting, Shaming And Black Twitter The Solution?


Has outrage over the lack of diversity and racial insensitivity within the fashion industry reached its peak? If not, Thursday’s New York Times article entitled “Fashion’s Blind Spot” will certainly ring the alarm.

The powerful feature, written by NYT editor Eric Wilson, explores the blatant whitewashing of fashion runways, ads and companies, ultimately begging the question: why doesn’t the industry recognize it has a race problem? Wilson makes a strong argument that despite efforts to combat the issue, the industry is still in denial and “nothing has changed.”

That sentiment is shared by Bethann Hardison, a former model and modeling agency owner, as well as supermodel-turned-mogul Iman. These two ladies are leading the charge to inject some much needed diversity into fashion.

Hardison, who founded the advocacy group Black Girls Coalition in 1989, told the Times that part of the problem is that “no one in power slaps these designers around.”

Taking it a step further, Iman suggested that a boycott might be in order. “It feels to me like the times need a real hard line drawn like in the 1960s, by saying if you don’t use black models, then we boycott,” Iman said. “If you engage the social media, trust me, it will hurt them in their pockets. If you take it out there, they will feel the uproar.”

And beyond simply boycotting the retail aspect of the industry (because how many people are really buying $3,000 purses on a regular basis?), image activist and fashion insider Michaela Angela Davis suggests that folks leverage the power of Black Twitter to effect change.

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