Building Equality In The Fashion Industry: 'There Should Be No Limitations' [2022]

These professionals agree that there is a lot more work to do when it comes to equality and diversity in the fashion industry.

The fashion industry undoubtedly has a lot more work to do when it comes to equality and diversity.

Please don't get us wrong, we've all seen the rise of "Shop Black" initiatives at some of the world's largest retailers. That's amazing! However, we ask you the following questions: What about the diversity in CEO positions? How can it be acceptable for Black designers to receive such minimal funding in a $1.5 trillion industry? How can there be such a blatant disregard for the thoughts and opinions of the professionals who work every day to set the trend, only to have it replicated by the very people who once called it "ghetto"? The list goes on and on, but you get our point.

We applaud the increasing number of Black designers being recognized by fashion institutions, but there has to be more designers than the household names we've come to love. We applaud the presence of Black models on the runway, but there has to be more room backstage during NYFW.

Yes, undressing the realities of the fashion industry reveals a plethora of blunders. However, we should all remain optimistic that we will be able to shatter the glass runway in 2022. That's if we speak up...together.

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In honor of MLK Day and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s dream of equality for all, we chatted with fashion professionals to learn how they believe the industry can become more inclusive in the new year.

Brandice Daniel, CEO & Founder Of Harlem's Fashion Row And ICON360

Being More Inclusive In 2022: “In 2022, the fashion industry should begin to make 5-10 year commitments to benefit Black designers. The last two years have given us all time to test and see what works. Now, it's time for long-term action.”

Vision For Equality In The Fashion Industry: “Currently, there is no Black CEO of a Fortune 500 fashion or apparel brand. Equity is the distribution of power. I would like to see several Black CEOs of Fortune 500 Brands. A power shift would open doors to a lot more diversity throughout the industry.”

Would Love To Say Goodbye To: “The notion that Black companies and organizations should give away our expertise and knowledge at a discount.”

Marlo Hampton: Fashion Guru/Influencer & Real Housewives Of Atlanta Star

Being More Inclusive In 2022: “In my opinion, the fashion industry could become more inclusive by creating space for those who are of various backgrounds, ethnicities, and genders. The industry needs to educate itself on what exactly inclusivity is and how it can be displayed through all aspects of fashion. Inclusivity goes beyond allowing ‘diverse’ people in the room. It also requires allowance for them to speak with the guarantee that they will be heard.”

Vision For Equality In The Fashion Industry: “To see equality in the fashion industry, I would like to see an increase in executive female leadership, plus the elimination of the gender wage gap. Although fashion is SEEN as a female-dominated industry, over half of the top luxury fashion houses are run by men, and the majority of female fashion executives that do exist are paid less than their male counterparts.”

Would Love To Say Goodbye To: “Cultural appropriation removed from the fashion industry. Many luxury fashion houses benefit and profit off of the culture of minorities, but less than 1% of those minorities are in creative or executive positions.”

Eboyné M. Jackson: Publicist & Owner Of Luxe On 7th

Being More Inclusive In 2022: “I absolutely love seeing the CFDA welcome the Black in Fashion Council and their vast array of fresh, new, and up-and-coming black designers. However, I feel there is more work that needs to be done. Yes, while we are seeing more Black models of all hues, shapes, and sizes in fashion, I still feel there needs to be more representation for curvy Black women. The standard women's size today is a size 16. I feel that there should be more stylish and favorable options for curvy women of color. Honestly, that is why I created my aspirational lifestyle brand, Luxe on 7th.”

Vision For Equality In The Fashion Industry: “In fashion, there should be no limitations. We should be able to see all sizes, shapes, and hues prancing down the runway.”

Would Love To Say Goodbye To: “I would like to see work burnout leave the fashion industry. My heart goes out to the many budding professionals that suffer from burnout in this culture. I pray that there is an increase of pay for these individuals who work long, tireless hours with increased project deliverables.”

Cynthia Bailey: Model/Actress, Entrepreneur & Reality Star

Being More Inclusive In 2022: “Diversity on all levels. Although the fashion industry has made strides, we need more diversity across all boards—from models and designers to editors and photographers.”

Vision For Equality In The Fashion Industry: “Equal rights for anyone qualified for the job, regardless of race and gender. I would also like to see more people of color in leadership and decision-making roles.”

Would Love To Say Goodbye To: “Anti-Black hiring practices. We still need to be represented in larger roles. The Black culture has a huge impact on fashion. We should have more inclusivity and respect.”

Milan Rouge: Founder & CEO of Milano Di Rouge

Being More Inclusive In 2022: “I think the industry can become more inclusive by respecting all designer's craft and not minimizing or putting them in a box based on race or gender.”

Vision For Equality In The Fashion Industry: “Honor and accolades for your hard work. I'm a woman in a male-dominated industry so being inclusive means more opportunities for all brands to be seen and respected.”

Rasheeda Frost: Entrepreneur, Reality TV Personality & Fashion Expert

Being More Inclusive In 2022: “As customers, we should be more open-minded to shopping for new brands. There are some amazing Black designers out here! We really have to work hard as a culture to uplift and promote our people.”

Vision For Equality In The Fashion Industry: “More opportunities for Black brands to grow in the industry. It's really hard to gain visibility in the fashion industry, so it would be game-changing if famous luxury brands collaborated with emerging designers. ”

Would Love To Say Goodbye To: “Lack of equality.”

Janelle Carothers: Costume Designer

Being More Inclusive In 2022: “It seems as though linguistics is where we are getting stuck. For the fashion industry to be more inclusive, it has to move in a direction that includes everyone. Acknowledge that balls have been dropped, learn what needs to be done—more specifically undone—and then work on it expeditiously.”

Would Love To Say Goodbye To: “The substantive underrepresentation of diverse talent, the lack of information on whether a brand aligns with their consumers' values or not, child labor, waste, and pollution.”

Today, we ask you the following questions: How could the fashion industry become more inclusive in 2022? What would equality in the fashion industry look like to you? What would you like to see leave the fashion industry? Share your thoughts in the comments.

** Editor’s Note: These interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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