In the wake of police brutality protests around the world, these are the fashion and beauty brands standing in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
Half way through 2020, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that we absolutely can — and must — join forces in order to create positive change. Faced with a global pandemic, individuals, companies, and nonprofits have united to find relief from the devastation brought about by Covid-19.
However, another, arguably more sinister devastation is currently traversing the globe, one that has been for as long as society can remember. I’m referring, of course, to the unjust killings of unarmed, black American citizens, the responsive relief efforts of which, for reasons beyond my knowledge, are taking fashion and beauty brands longer to come to the aid of.
Although many companies did not hesitate to lend a hand when fire engulfed the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, or donate proceeds to food banks, sew face masks, and make hand sanitiser the moment Coronavirus changed the world as we know it, many are noting how bafflingly stark a contrast this is to both industry’s responses to recent events. There was, alarmingly, a noticeable period of silence on social media following the deaths of Tony McDade, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery, once more placing the burden of asking humankind to show support and speak up on black men and women.
Fashion and beauty is now looking at a public relations challenge where, by calling for an end to police brutality and the systemic racism black people face on a daily basis, it comes across as — albeit unintentionally — an attempt to gain credibility. For many, fashion and beauty’s involvement in the BLM movement is hypocritical, perceived to be taking advantage of a PR opportunity. This is particularly relevant when you consider that several brands such as Gucci, H&M, Prada, and Comme des Garçons are still trying to live down the racial controversies they have sparked in the past. ‘It’s imperative for these brands to be sensitive to cultural differences and respect each and every one,’ says analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, Luca Solca. ‘Failure to do so, even involuntarily and by accident, exposes brands to severe consequences.’
What these industries must do is commit to action and avoid performative activism. Thankfully, there are a number of fashion, beauty, and lifestyle brands that are doing just this, answering the call to step up and making generous donations that will help organisations in their push to prove that black lives matter. Using their platforms to signal to the rest of the industry how essential it is to do better and doing more than just sharing an aesthetically pleasing quote to their feeds, here are some brands taking the necessary steps towards change, creating manifestos and guidelines that will eventually completely rework the overall approach to the black community. While the work is very, very far from being done, it’s most certainly a start. Here’s hoping it grows exponentially.
High Street Giants
Making a donation of an undisclosed amount to a ‘relevant organisation’ over the coming days, ASOS took to social media to express that silence is simply no longer an option. ‘We share the sorrow and outrage of the world over the grave injustice leading to the tragic loss of George Floyd’s life, along with Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade and so many other Black lives,’ said the retailer on Instagram. Also joining the fight is H&M, Puma and Fila, of which have pledged to donate considerable sums to charities and organisations of their choosing.
After posting a message of solidarity on the day of Floyd’s murder, the luxury fashion label announced that it would be donating to @yourrightscamp, @campaignzero, and grassroots civil rights organisation NAACP. In addition, Gucci pressed pause on all operations in the US for 24 hours to give its employees an opportunity to mourn and is currently thinking about the ways in which it can be part of the solution going forward.
Fenty and Savage X Fenty
Choosing to close for business on #BlackOutTuesday by way of honouring the black community and the many lives lost, Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty line revealed it would be donating to Colour for Change and Movement for Black Lives. ‘This is not a day off,’ it urged in an Instagram post. ‘This is a day to reflect and find ways to make real change.’ And it didn’t stop there. Writing: ‘there’s nothing else we can say that wasn’t already perfectly said by our founder’ in reference to the moment Rihanna asked non-black people who consider themselves allies to ‘Pull Up’ for their friends and peers of colour, Savage X Fenty is set to donate funds to support The Bail Project and BLM. ‘Now is not the time to stay silent or stand by,’ added the underwear brand. ‘Pull TF Up.’
Up-and-coming designer Asai has vowed to give a portion of all future sales to BLM and will donate 100% of the profits from his latest Hot Wok Dress to the movement (as well as to The Voice of Domestic Workers and Solace Women’s Aid). ‘The fashion industry has exploited black bodies under the term diversity but stay silent when the time is now to protect the bodies and the skin (your) runways, front covers, editorials love so much. I see you,’ he told Instagram, alongside a plethora of resources shared in the hope of educating others.