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Fashion and beauty brands come together in support of the BLM movement

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.

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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.

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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.

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Gucci

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.

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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.’

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Asai

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.

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Glossier

One of the first brands to do so, Glossier announced that it would be donating half a million dollars across five different racial justice organisations: We the Protestors, BLM, the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, the Equal Justice Initiative, and the Marsha P. Johnson Institute. ‘We stand in solidarity with the fight against systemic racism, white supremacy, and the historic oppression of the Black community,’ it said. ‘We’re inspired by so many people in our community who are using their voices and making change. We see you and are with you. For those looking for ways to take action, you can find resources for engagement and education in our Stories.’ Further to this, in an effort to make an impact within its own industry, Glossier has allocated an additional $500K in the form of grants to Black-owned beauty businesses.

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Ganni

The Copenhagen-based label has pledged 100,000 euros which will be divided between NAACP, legal aid non-profit initiative ACLU, and BLM. Having recently received a great deal of criticism for its distinct lack of diversity on an Elle magazine cover published last week, Ganni is now committed to commissioning black creatives to create work for its platform, and has used Instagram to share various educational resources, charitable causes, and tips on how to protest safely. It has also requested that anyone wanting to purchase something from its online store should ‘consider donating to an anti-racism organisation instead’ out of its commitment to continued action. ‘It’s a small start, but the change begins now,’ ends the post.     

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Anastasia Beverly Hills

The cult-favourite cosmetics brand has pledged $1m ‘towards the fight against systemic racism, oppression, and injustice,’ beginning with a $100,000 donation across various organisations. It has also promised to take the time internally to discuss new initiatives that will financially support Black owned artists and businesses in the industry, vowing to remain ‘constant and vocal supporters of equality,’ and to use its platform to ‘amplify the voices of marginalised groups that deserve to be heard’ — groups that are a continued source of inspiration and accountability.

Marc Jacobs and Jacquemus

Sharing a photograph of a defaced plaque after protestors broke into his Rodeo Drive store, Marc Jacobs commented ‘never let them convince you that broken glass or property is violence. Property can be replaced, human lives cannot,’ in an accompanying caption. It’s yet to be seen, however, whether or not the internationally renowned luxury label will donate any funds to the cause. So far, raising awareness has been its predominant mode of communication, which was also the case for Jacquemus who jumped on the BLM bandwagon, posting images and a viral video of young gospel singer Keedron Bryant.

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As you can well imagine, the list goes on. An extensive number of major fashion and beauty brands alike have come together in solidarity of the black community and what’s imperative moving forward is that the support does not waver. The number of companies that have announced sizeable donations to causes is actually rather limited and fundraising efforts seem to also be led by smaller, independent designers. Being much more vocal about what’s happening around the world, these small brands are ‘making an impact and leading on a community level,’ says Vogue. ‘But there is so much more work to be done,’ a sentiment echoed by the industry itself.

From Nike to Puma: all the fashion brands supporting Black Lives ...

Already struggling to get by amidst the retail decline of the Coronavirus crisis, it’s these businesses that are proving to be the most admirable. Vaquera, Collina Strada, Shrimps, Eckhaus Latta, Lou Dallas, and Jonathan Cohen (to name a few) have made it their mission to get involved despite difficulties keeping themselves afloat and it should act as a message to the wider industry of what is in fact the bare minimum in a situation like the one we’re currently facing.

 

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