NEW YORK, United States – When the Black Lives Matter movement became part of the US national discourse in 2014, most of the fashion remained on the sidelines, leaving behind public attitudes toward media experts and political candidates.
But over the past half decade, the mind is behind the biggest industrial brands have studied that they are unable to remain silent. That does not mean they know what to say.
Prolonged anger over racial discrimination and police violence against black Americans reached a critical point last week with the killing of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. Mass demonstrations have taken place in big cities from Los Angeles to London, with pictures of demonstrators lined up, and in some cases clashing with police, even overshadowing pandemics in newspapers and cable news.
To overcome the sadness and anger expressed by millions of people this week, fashion and beauty brands mostly follow the same manual they used for Covid-19, which Australian forest fires and many other crises: post a message of support on social media, sometimes accompanied by donations to well-known nonprofits. Their goal is to give a signal that they have the same value as their customers. And that is also good for brand awareness. Over the course of a week, the value of media obtained – or a measure of reach for social media posts – for the hashtag #blacklivesmatter rose from $ 173,000 to $ 63.5 million, according to Tribe Dynamics.
However, this time, many of the Instagram movements failed. Take Louis Vuitton for example: the biggest luxury brand in the world based on sales posted a video on Sunday, commissioned by the male artistic director Virgil Abloh, about a black man riding a horse, with the words, “Make a change. Freedom from racism towards mutual peace. #BlackLivesMatter. “Many saw the post taken to Instagram and Twitter to question the brand’s response (some also noted that the parent brand, LVMH, had donated € 200 million to rebuild Notre Dame but has not yet announced contributions to causes affiliated with protesters).
God fared a little better. He posted a picture on his personal Instagram that indicated he had donated $ 50 for bail, and elsewhere condemned looting. Social media users wonder how multi-hyphenate designers get that amount. “People have to donate whatever they want, but humans … Virgil Abloh really only donates 11 percent of one Off-White belt,” one word. Louis Vuitton declined to comment. The representative for Abloh did not respond to requests for comment from the BoF, but the designer issued a statement for That New York time before canceling it. Then, in a long Instagram post, Abloh apologized for signifying something lacking in full solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, adding that he donated more than $ 20,000 to guarantee funds and related efforts.
Fashion is learning the hard way that consumers raise moral standards for the brands they protect. As many companies are increasingly accused wash green – use the language of sustainability to drive sales without making significant changes – they are also being researched whether they live up to the values of diversity and empowerment of blacks that increasingly appear in their advertisements. Race is a very painful place in fashion, where brands have long history of exploitation minority culture to sell clothing and accessories.
Saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ is really minimal.
During periods of mass demonstrations and boiling racial tensions, white letters about black backgrounds and one-time donations were considered too little, too late. Many consumers want evidence of real change, be it the diversity of differences in recruiting or supporting underprivileged communities who provide inspiration for so many designs.
“Saying ‘Black Lives Matter’ is really minimal,” said Ericka Claudio, a social impact strategist who works with brands in media, fashion and entertainment. “Putting your resources behind supporting black life and advancing black success is what is needed to dismantle racism in this country.”
Actions speak louder than Instagram posts
There are several brands that have won praise for their responses to the protests. Glossier is in between the first to post about the protest, and is committed to donating $ 500,000 to social justice organizations.
Streetwear’s resale platform, Grailed, donates an undisclosed amount to groups including the Black Lives Matter, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Committee to Protect Journalists. The company also went beyond offering support by sending its message, highlighting the debt that must be paid by the black community.
“This issue is very important to us because the black community is a large part of the Grailed community and the fashion industry as a whole,” Chief Executive Arun Gupta to the BoF. “We would not be where we are today without the black community and black culture.”
Reebok posted to his Instagram profile twice over the weekend, states: “Without the black community, Reebok would not exist. America will not exist. We do not ask you to buy our shoes. We ask you to stand on other people. “
Nike released an ad reverse the famous catchphrase, “For Once, Don’t Do it,” which urges consumers not to turn away from racism. The video has received more than 450,000 views on YouTube and 13.5 million views on Instagram since Friday. Adidas retweeted an ad.
Although it does not make explicit monetary contributions or point to resources in the commercial, the response is largely positive online. That may be because Nike has a history that strongly supports social and racial justice, as evidenced when the sportswear giant openly supports NFL star Colin Kaepernick in peaceful demonstration against black oppression.
Other companies that have never spoken politically in the past have tried hard to catch up, because brand after brand found itself as the center of online reaction.
Over the weekend, Jackie Aina, a beauty influencer with 3.4 million YouTube subscribers, marked brands including Revolve, Pretty Little Thing and Fashion Nova in the post, accusing them of profiting from black consumers and borrowing from their culture while doing little to promote equality.
Aina tweeted on May 29th, “Fashion Nova reached out and I called a few hours ago with their CEO. After calling, I continued with a series of actions and plans to make further calls with them.”
Fashion Nova did not respond to BoF’s request for comment.
As cultural politics becomes an increasingly strong current in the consumer landscape – and more importantly, imminent moral imperatives – it is important that brands deepen their understanding and effectiveness in overcoming problems.
Investing in the racial and economic parity of all people, especially black Americans, not only encourages buying and building brand-to-consumer relationships in the short term; This helps promote long-term financial security for individuals, and ultimately, increases consumer spending, according to the 2018 report from W.K. The Kellogg Foundation is entitled, “The Business Case for Racial Equality.”
Kellogg’s research found that closing the racial equity gap would increase US apparel spending by $ 52 billion between now and 2050.
But the dollar is not to be taken with difficulty. Nearly half of the black adults surveyed said they expected the brand they bought to support social causes, 16 percent higher than the total population, according to Nielsen. Brands like Nike, while understanding the power of black consumer spending, prioritize being on the right side of social issues, setting a framework for customers to then trust brand values.
However, a haphazard reactionary approach is no longer sufficient. Brands need to build credibility on this topic before the crisis comes, experts say.
“Put your money where you are: brands can avoid the perception that they only exploit social problems by actively working with change-making organizations,” said Sandrine Charles, founder of Sandrine Charles Consulting, which counts Kith, Nordstrom x Nike, and Aimé Leon Dore as previous clients.
Employing, retaining, and actively promoting people of color is very important, because having diverse staff internally will help shape the company’s response to sensitive issues for the better. Bias training is another important component, to ensure that the company’s internal culture changes beyond the recruitment process.
“This is not my place to discuss brands and say [politically correct] in times of crisis because it will increase their equality profile, “Charles said. “They must first realize these characteristics and want to support and embrace the community. They must look within themselves and emphasize that they have supported the community when not in a crisis. “
The company must also work with partners and outside experts to develop the right approach. Grailed said it maintained its quarterly goals for diversity and inclusion, and partnered with organizations including the Pursuit, InHerSight, and Recurse Center to ensure it was looking for job candidates from diverse backgrounds.
Bringing outside noises in a very difficult time can also help with responses.
“There are many black colors [public relations] professionals available and ready to work who need jobs now, especially during a pandemic, “Claudio said.” Hire full-time blacks, create budgets, roles and platforms, and lead with it … And if you don’t know, now is the time time to make an open call. “
Brands must also move past the idea that the right message is enough. In the past week, many companies have directed customers and followers of social media to educational resources or offered ideas on how to contribute.
The Noah Streetwear brand includes links to anti-racism resources with notes from its founder. M.M. women’s work wear brand LaFleur sent a bulletin on Sunday outlining how it would send regular emails highlighting colored women and political candidates. The message included resources on how to protest safely and anti-racism guidelines and organizations.
“In the end, I want to make sure we don’t stop being angry and sad, and channel all this energy into meaningful actions,” M.M. LaFleur founder and chief executive Sarah LaFleur told the BoF.
Luxurious Messaging Problems
Luxury brands, in particular, have struggled to respond to protests. Like Louis Vuitton, many choose simple support messages, often opposing brand image.
Gucci, who hired a chief diversity officer in 2019 after repeatedly promoting products that were filled with racist images, posted on Instagram a Cleo Wade poem calling for an end to racism. Prada posted a statement on Monday on Instagram“The Prada Group is very angry and sad with the injustices faced by the black community and stands in strong support and solidarity with racism. We raise our voices and continue to work with our Diversity and Inclusion Board to fight for racial justice everywhere. “It is noteworthy that these brands have announced company diversity policies, and can continue to develop their policies and practices, although they do not provide a direct outline of what they look like. (The bigger the brand, the longer it will take to organize communication.)
Valentino, whose creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli has made inclusion a focal point on brand runways and has referred to the “luxury of diversity” at couture presentation, posted photos to her Instagram page over the weekend said “Black Lives Matter,” and that “Valentino supports the movement for black life.”
These messages might resonate more if they reflect a history of support for the black community, experts say.
“[Brands] definitely want to communicate their support to the black community. “This cannot be the 11th hour of Hail Mary because everyone is watching and waiting for them,” Charles said. “If it’s not the root of the brand, it will only be a Band-Aid situation that will be repeated every time something like this arises.”
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