All humans are born with equal, inalienable rights and fundamental freedoms.
Yet we live in a world where all people are not treated as equal. The reality is that inequalities in our culture have created an inexcusable loss of human dignity, growing social inequality and a crisis for employment with limited or no access to education in many communities. This is affecting society in numerous negative ways.
There is a growing gap between rich and poor. In my last blog post, I talked about the gender inequality and pay gap in the industry. I also talked about how most workers in the world making our clothes, do not make a living wage or even a minimum wage to support themselves and their families. We have yet to discuss the welfare of animals that is being critically ignored (I will discuss this in a later post). There is also a lack of inclusion of people with disabilities, size diversity and gender biases in fashion. These are subjects that must be addressed if we are to talk about sustainability in fashion. I plan to discuss these in more depth in later posts.
What I want to discuss here today is the great social divide and social injustice that is affecting people of color – many of those people make up the production chain in the fashion industry. Most of the countries that your clothes are made are in countries made up of black and brown people, living in poverty with no future for themselves or their children with little hope of advancing the social / economic ladder. This social divide is visible in our workplace with little to no people of color being advanced (or hired) – not to mention woman not being advanced to higher level positions in the industry. This is also evident in the fashion magazines or fashion ads with people of color rarely getting on a cover or featured in ads.
Human rights, although agreed by many countries, are dependent on states to protect them, on businesses to respect them, and on access to appropriate justice when violations have been identified. Yet, these are not in place within the fashion industry and that creates inequalities and conditions for human rights violations to thrive. Real change requires systems change. This isn’t about charitable or philanthropic actions –a seemingly preferred action amongst clothing brands– but about addressing business practices.
Unfortunately, the sustainable fashion industry is not immune to social irresponsibility.
Sustainable fashion brands have mostly been targeted towards white people. To see real change within sustainable fashion, reform needs to come from the top from the people that make decisions and recruitment policies of the brand – meaning hiring more Black talent.
The social unrest this year in 2020 has been amplified with the killing of George Floyd by police. Protests started around the US and all over the world. BLACK LIVES MATTER movement has brought social injustice and social inequality to light. Many companies quickly changed their direction to be more inclusive. We started seeing more people of color in fashion ads and being advanced in fashion companies.
Companies should not stop there and need to keep the momentum going if we are all to move forward as a nation.
The FIFTEEN PERCENT PLEDGE created by Aurora James, the founder of NYC-based footwear label BROTHER VELLIES, asks retailers to devote 15% of their offerings to Black-owned businesses in order to reflect the percentage of Black communities across America.
Change starts with you – where you shop, what you buy, which organizations you support, and who you chose to surround yourself with and as an employer – who you hire.
CHANGE STARTS WITH YOU!
I’d like to leave you with this:
“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~Maya Angelou
Xoxo A Sustainable Love 💚