Vogue Vows Commitment To Hire More Black People By Joining Aurora James' 15 Percent Pledge

Vogue Joins Aurora James' 15 Percent Pledge

Vogue Vows Commitment To Hire More Black People By Joining Aurora James' 15 Percent Pledge

Is this finally a step in the right direction for the fashion industry?

Published August 26th

Written by Tira Urquhart

In the wake of racial injustices across America back in June, Brother Vellies founder and designer, Aurora James, started the "15 Percent Pledge." She urges brands and major retailers who promise to "do better" to commit a minimum of 15% of their shelf to Black-owned businesses. 

Since calling on Target, Walmart, Nordstrom, Wholefoods, and Trader Joes to join, brands such as Sephora and West Elm are two retailers who recently signed on and promised to commit at least 15% to Black-owned brands. 

On Tuesday (Aug. 25), it was announced that Vogue is taking the pledge. Through this commitment, the publication will engage a higher number of Black freelance photographers, writers, and creatives to grow the percentage of work they commission to at least 15% of total hires throughout the year. 

Related | Shoe Designer Aurora James Challenges The Fashion Community With "15% Pledge" To Demand Support Of Black-Owned Businesses

"As the most influential and authoritative voice in fashion, we could not be more proud that Vogue has stepped up to take on this responsibility," the organization wrote in a post." It is our hope that by holding them accountable, we can begin to improve the way Black people are represented not just in Vogue, but the media industry at large. "

In 2018, Tyler Mitchell became the first Black person ever to shoot a Vogue cover, which featured Beyoncé, in the magazine's 128-year history. Aurora shared the news via an Instagram post that read: 

"Today the creative landscape for Black people has changed. Because of @voguemagazine commitment to the @15PercentPledge beautiful Black minds, Black hands, Black eyes and Black opinions will now more greatly contribute in creating the voice of the most influential fashion force in the World. Whereas we were once just the muse, we are now the artist too. Thank you to Vogue for committing to hiring more Black freelance photographers, writers, stylists, beauty teams and models. This is just the beginning. Today we have become our own historians."

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For our September issue, #KerryJamesMarshall and Jordan Casteel (@jordanmcasteel) were given complete freedom to decide who would be on their covers, a real or imaginary person, and how that person would be portrayed. For her Vogue cover, above, Casteel chose a real person as her subject, fashion designer Aurora James (@aurorajames), who made headlines in June with her @15percentpledge, a campaign to support Black-owned businesses. “I believe that what Aurora is doing is hugely important in creating the long-term change that Black people deserve and this country owes us,” Casteel says. “I see her as a light in a lot of darkness, and a potential for hope, a representative of change across all creative industries. What’s most exciting to me is being given artistic integrity and being able to choose the person to be my sitter—someone who reflects a portion of my own identity—and then to do that truly in the medium of my choice. This is the way that I speak to the world. And this is the way I’ve been speaking to the world and talking about the humanity of our people, talking about humanity in general. It’s a really profound experience. I do think I’m participating and a change is happening.” Tap the link in our bio to read more about the making of our September covers, which are part of our global reflection on #VogueHope. Artwork by @jordanmcasteel, Courtesy of the artist and Casey Kaplan, New York. Photo: David Schulze. The Joyner/Giuffrida Collection, San Francisco. Written by Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, September 2020

A post shared by Vogue (@voguemagazine) on

Vogue's 15% pledge was also announced on the same day the publication unveiled the brand's September issue titled "Hope." It's a special issue featuring more than 100 voices discussing the future of fashion. Artists Kerry James Marshall and Jordan Casteel were asked to make paintings and given complete freedom to choose their covers in which James was one of the chosen muses. 

"I believe that what Aurora is doing is hugely important in creating the long-term change that Black people deserve, and this country owes us," Casteel says. "I see her as a light in a lot of darkness, and a potential for hope, a representative of change across all creative industries. What's most exciting to me is being given artistic integrity and being able to choose the person to be my sitter—someone who reflects a portion of my own identity—and then to do that truly in the medium of my choice. This is the way that I speak to the world. And this is the way I've been speaking to the world and talking about the humanity of our people, talking about humanity in general. It's a really profound experience. I do think I'm participating and a change is happening."

We're glad that Vogue signed on. Hopefully, more brands follow suit. 

(Photo: Roy Rochlin/Getty Images, Jim Spellman/FilmMagic)

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