Diversity is finally finding its way onto the runway thanks to fashion designers thinking outside the normalized ideas of what constitutes as the ideal "western beauty.”
Although there are still many magazine layouts and runways starving for a sprinkle of our #BlackGirlMagic, there seems to be more conscious decision making to showcase women of all shades and sizes. Model castings are expanding their limited lists of routine models and finally choosing models that represent unique women seen every day in society.
Yes, there are small steps being made in the fashion industry for inclusivity, which is being spotlighted like Naomi Campbell strutting down the catwalk during New York Fashion Week. But there still seems to be an ongoing internal problem when it comes to the designs.
For some time now, the thin line between fashion expression and outright cultural appropriation and bigotry has been blurred.
Somehow, designs that highlight distasteful imagery, like the horrific blackface symbolism, have been making its way into retail stores and online shopping platforms.
It has to be stopped, and thanks to social media, people are speaking out and sounding off.
With so many fashion advisers and channels that a designer has to go through before a design is served up and ready for retail, it beckons the following questions: Who is approving these abhorrent and offensive designs? Also, with so many Black creatives holding different titles in the fashion industry, where are the people who can advise these fashion houses on cultural acceptance?
To date, we are waiting for answers.
Recently, Italian luxury fashion brand Prada has announced that they are pulling up their seats at the table with open minds in order to receive a solution to the controversial topic—especially after they experienced a firestorm reaction in December 2018 for their bag charms that resembled black monkeys with oversize bright red lips, which many considered racist and insensitive.
On Wednesday (Feb. 13), Prada revealed they are forming a diversity council to "elevate voices of color within the company and the fashion industry at large."
It is quite unfortunate that social media backlash is necessary for them to assemble a “Diversity Council,” but in light of solving the problem, we are pleased to see the genuine effort to fix the problem.
We are living in a time where the power of the Black dollar is using its voice more frequently through our influence on social media. The voices are resounding, so it only makes sense that when loyal buyers of the luxury fashion brand speak their concerns, they should listen with open ears and a mind to make a change.
Refreshingly, amongst the council includes artist Theaster Gates and famed film director Ava DuVernay, who we believe is a perfect choice.
Ava is known for her activism and desire to have more Black representation in front and behind the scenes of motion pictures. Theaster is a great fit for the council due to his plans to help Prada be more "reflective of the world today."
According to Prada, the purpose of the council will help to develop "diverse talent" and offer more opportunities for students of color to bring their assets with the hopes that the initiative would "help us [Prada] grow not only as a company but also as individuals."
"Prada is committed to cultivating, recruiting and retaining diverse talent to contribute to all departments of the company," shared Miuccia Prada, CEO and creative director (via CBS News). "In addition to amplifying voices of color within the industry, we will help ensure that the fashion world is reflective of the world in which we live."
As of now, we're anxiously awaiting to see how the Council will prevent further racially charged and insensitive designs.
We just hope that the guidance of POC will change the mindset in fashion and influence all fashion houses to make the same decision.
(Photos: Scott Barbour/Getty Images, Araya Diaz/Getty Images)
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