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Black Fashion Industry Leaders Want to Move From Cancel Culture to Accountability With New Coalition

A group co-founded by Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles will partner with companies to advance Black professionals and release a yearly index score measuring diversity.
Lindsay Peoples Wagner and Sandrine Charles are the co-founders of the Black in Fashion Coalition | Source: Courtesy
  • Chantal Fernandez

NEW YORK, United States — A new organisation of more than 400 Black editors, models, stylists and executives is looking to harness the current moment to address systemic racism and discrimination in the fashion and beauty industries.

Co-founders Lindsay Peoples Wagner, the editor in chief of Teen Vogue, and publicist Sandrine Charles are the leaders behind the Black in Fashion Coalition, which will officially launch in July.

Peoples Wagner described the group’s approach as moving beyond “cancel culture” to “accountability culture.”

“We want to allow people to rise to the occasion of changing,” she said.

Charles said the coalition is a "collaborative collective," adding "We want to partner with everyone." The coalition aims to work with major corporations, media companies, emerging brands and trade organisations like The Council of Fashion Designers of America, with which the coalition is "100 percent in alignment," she said.

Peoples Wagner and Charles hope to concentrate industry efforts to fight racism into actionable initiatives through the group’s network of leaders from different parts of the fashion business.

“Based on so many initiatives that have come before us, I think the smartest way to go about this is to definitely figure out that streamlined approach,” said Peoples Wagners.

The coalition is backed by more than 35 board members from different parts of the industry, including GQ Deputy Fashion Director Nikki Ogunnaike, Vice President of Brand and Culture Engagement at Gucci Antoine Phillips, KCD Director Tenique Bernard, IMG agent Ethan Miller, Cosmopolitan Beauty Director Julee Wilson, and Saks Fifth Avenue Vice President Jamillah Davis Hernandez. These board members are split into groups with focus points ranging from retail to models and corporations to emerging brands.

The coalition will ask organisations in the industry to pledge to work with the group for at least the next three years, and participate in a “Quality Index Score” by sharing company information on employee representation and other factors. The score, modelled after the Human Rights Campaign’s Corporate Equality Index and other similar surveys, will be a yearly, public report card for the industry. The first edition will be released in June 2021.

Companies that opt in will have the next six months to work with specific Black in Fashion Coalition board members, depending on their priorities, who will act as point people for programs and initiatives, and make changes before submitting data for evaluation in January 2021.

The coalition will also publish a digital directory of Black talent to help corporations as they seek to diversify their staff, and host quarterly town hall meetings and events for its Black members to foster support and mentorship.

In the aftermath of the protest movement spurred by the killing of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and other Black people by the police, the fashion industry is acknowledging its own systemic racism and baked-in discriminatory practices. There are no shortages of initiatives coming out as a result, on a corporate level, from other coalitions of Black professionals, and also from the CFDA.

In recent days, "Black glam" stylists have announced their own collective, co-founded by stylist and America's Next Top Model judge Law Roach, stylist and Aliétte designer Jason Rembert and hairstylist Lacy Redway. And last week, another group of Black professionals petitioned the CFDA to enact change after a letter of initiatives released by the trade organisation in early June disappointed some in the industry.

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