It seems like every week a fashion brand is rallying behind a political candidate, collaborating with a nonprofit, or announcing a new sustainability initiative—in other words, companies are trying to prove they are more “conscious.” Being “conscious” has become a talking point. Credit the current political climate or the idea that customers want to shop their values, but more and more designers are being vocal about where they stand on certain issues, and companies are increasingly transparent about their business or manufacturing practices. ×
Fashion still has a lot of work to do when it comes to diversifying its talent pool. In February 2015 only 2.7 percent of the designers on the New York Fashion Week calendar were black, according to The New York Times; by February 2018 that statistic was still under 10 percent, per The Cut. And there have been regular reminders why this is critical: Designer products resembling blackface or nooses have sparked calls for boycotts and increased demands that companies take steps to diversify and educate their employees and provide new opportunities for people of color. Amid the headlines and outcry, black fashion designers keep doing the work: creating and advocating for more inclusive fashion through their products and every single facet of their business.
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“I'm inspired by anything black. Black artists, musicians, activism. James Baldwin, Angela Davis, David Hilliard, Nina Simone—they inspired a project I just did, where each one inspired a look, but you wouldn't know from looking at it. I'm not trying to be so straightforward. If that were the case, I would just take my research and put it on a graphic T-shirt. The thing that informs all of my work is the black experience. That's just how my brain works, I can't help it. It's exciting to know that some people get the reference, no matter how secretive or subtle it may be.”
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