Racial injustice, lack of resources, etc. for Black Americans has been something black
communities have been discussing for far too long. No matter the social class or regional
location in American, most black individuals in America can tell at least one story about some
form of racism they have experienced in their lives. And unfortunately, the fashion industry is not exempted from these experiences.
The racial pandemic of 2020
The global uprising following the killing of George Floyd at the height of the Coronavirus outbreak caused many to voice their outrage, frustrations, and own racial experiences on social media platforms.
Fashion professionals also began to speak up about racial inequality, and micro aggression situations that occurred within the work space in the fashion industry. And for some fashion professionals, they decided it was necessary to take the fight for change one step further by creating mentorship programs, consulting firms, and more to improve change within the industry.
Below are 8 black fashion professionals fighting for change in the fashion, beauty, creative, and arts industry in 2020 and beyond to make it more diverse and inclusive for all.
1. Aurora James @aurorajames
Aurora James, a NYC based footwear designer and founder of the shoe brand Brother Vellies,
is the founder of Fifteen Percent Pledge. In May, Aurora challenged big corporations to commit
to buying 15% of their products from a black owned business on an Instagram post. That one
post, shortly after led to a 501c3 non-profit advocacy organization called Fifteen Percent
Pledge , urging major retailers to commit 15% of their shelf-space to Black-owned businesses.
“We represent 15 percent of the population and we need to represent 15 percent of your shelf
space,” said James on Instagram. However, the impetus is still on the companies to do their
own research and find Black-owned companies that comply with their requirements to
implement sustainable, long-term partnerships. This change is about longevity. “If they value our money, then value us as well and show us that we are represented,” says James.
You can find out more information about fifteenpercentpledge on the website, sign the petition
and stay up to date on the pledge to see what brands are participating.
2. Lindsay Peoples Wagner @lpeopleswagner
Lindsay Peoples Wagner, the current Editor-in-Chief at Teen Vogue and co-founder of the newly
formed Black in Fashion Council is not new to bringing awareness to what black people in the
fashion industry encounter.
In 2018, Lindsay wrote an article for New York Magazine called
“What It’s Like To Be Black In Fashion”, which discussed workplace discrimination and
microaggression. This article was very well-received (and a must read) and a widely shared
article for New York Magazine as stated on the “About Us” section of the BIFC website.
3. Sandrine Charles @sandrinecharles
Sandrine Charles, a PR executive and owner of Sandrine Charles Consulting, is one half
co-founder of Black In Fashion Council, alongside Lindsay Peoples Wagner. The duo both
wanted brands and companies to be held accountable for their diversity initiatives and to take
part in creating a better future for black individuals navigating within the fashion industry. The
BIFC goal is to produce a yearly public report to track the work that companies who’ve signed a
three-year commitment pledge are doing to foster representation of Black employees at all
“The Black in Fashion Council was founded to represent and secure the advancement of black
individuals in the fashion and beauty industry,” the Black in Fashion Council’s homepage reads.
For more information and to stay up-to-date on the BIFC, you can visit the website or follow
@blackinfashioncouncil on Instagram.
4. Zerina Akers @zerinaakers
Zerina Akers is the personal stylist to the Queen…yes, I’m talking about Beyonce. Now, if you
follow Zerina’s work styling Beyonce, as well as many other celebrity clients, then you know that Zerina supports black owned designers and businesses regularly; and has styled her super
mega client Beyonce in a ton of black independent designers .
So when Zerina curated a directory of Black-owned businesses within the fashion, beauty, arts, and home industry, it was a breath of fresh air seeing Zerina sharing her resources with the world.
Black business owners can register their business on the Black Owned Everything website. The
directory is a great way to support black communities and continue to support the growth and
advancement of black entrepreneurs, which then leads to the advancement of community.
You can find all of the registered black owned businesses featured on the blackownedeverything Instagram page.
5. Chrissy Rutherford @chrissyford
Chrissy has established her career in fashion media and is currently a contributing editor at
HarpersBazaar.com. In the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, Chrissy took to Instagram and
discussed the physical toll the murder had on her and discuss the actions it takes for one to truly be anti-racism. Chrissy’s heartfelt video quickly went viral. and she soon received tons of questions from industry peers asking for advice on actions to take in order to be anti-racism.
With the amount of requests Chrissy was receiving from her industry peers, she alongside a close industry friend realized it would take up a great deal of their time trying to educate and be a resource for people on this topic and decided consulting and charging brands and individuals would be a more suitable approach. And from there, 2BG Consulting was created.
6. Danielle Prescod @danielleprescod
Danielle Prescod, another veteran in the fashion and beauty editorial industry is co-founder of 2BG Consulting, partnering with her long time friend within the industry, Chrissy. Similar to Chrissy, Danielle shared a video on Instagram calling out brands who seemed to have jumped on the allyship bandwagon of the Black Lives Matter movement. Together Danielle and Chrissy’s videos garnished millions of views on IG. Danielle & Chrissy aim to educate, shape brands and encourage brands to have conversations about the true definition of allyship and how brands can be more inclusive. The goal is to teach individuals and brands the true art and form of being an ally to combat all forms of racism.
You can follow 2BG Consulting on their Instagram page for more updates.
7. Candace Marie @marie_mag_
If you read my TEN NYC CONTENT CREATORS TO FOLLOW NOW column, then you might
recognize Candace from that list.
In addition to creating content, Candace has founded BlackInCorporate , a resource and tool to champion for Black individuals behind corporate walls, where change is needed most. BIC also includes a virtual mentorship program, pairing Black professionals from various backgrounds including fashion, media, entertainment, art, etc. to mentees who would otherwise not have access to a mentor. This mentorship program is a great start for black individuals who don’t have access to resources.
For more information about the Black In Corporate mentorship program, visit the website .
8. Joan Smalls @joansmalls
Supermodel Joan Smalls, created Donatemywage in an effort to be a force for change. Joan
pledged 50 percent of her earnings for the remainder of the year to Black Lives Matter
organizations. As stated on the website, DonateMyWage.org was born to help others within the
fashion and entertainment industries, while also being available to people outside of those
categories, donate portions of their wages to organizations of their choosing. For anyone to be
willing to donate half of their wages to an organization is just remarkable.
You can find out more information about Joan’s nonfit at Dontemywage.org .
All the above industry professionals may have different approaches to how they are continuing to fight for justice, however there’s one thing in common. Everyone is fighting for racial equality, challenging the industry, and pushing for the advancement of black and brown individuals within the industry.
To say 2020 has been one of the most unpredictable and worst years for millions of people
throughout the world is an understatement. However, there is always light at the end of the
tunnel. These individuals are changing the landscape of the industry for the better and I’m excited to see the progression of the fashion and beauty industry on matters of diversity and inclusion for all through these new initiatives.