While much of the fashion community has posted about the Black Lives Matter movement on social media, the number of companies that have announced sizable donations to causes are few. Yes, Rihanna’s lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, has donated to Black Lives Matter’s New York chapter and the Bail Project, and Ganni has pledged $100,000 to Black Lives Matter, the NAACP, and the ACLU. Stella McCartney has given to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and Glossier has contributed $500,000 to several organizations fighting injustice as well as earmarked another $500,000 to be used as grants for black-owned beauty companies. By and large, though, fundraising efforts are being led by small, independent designers.
Small brands who are donating portions of sales or lump sums include Asai, Collina Stradam, Vaquera, Marques’Almedia, Jonathan Cohen, Eckhaus Latta, Lou Dallas, Shrimps, Paloma Wool, Susan Alexandra, Lizzie Fortunato, Catbird, and Dauphinette. The majority of these companies were already struggling to get by amid to retail decline of the Covid-19 crisis.
Many have noted on social media that this is in stark contrast to fashion’s swift fundraising in the wake of the global pandemic and the fire that engulfed the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris. As the coronavirus swept across the globe, donation from fashion companies were in the tens of millions; for the cathedral that number was in the hundreds of millions.
While donations are not the only way to help support is crucial to the success of black community organizations and businesses. On Instagram, Brother Vellies founder Aurora James issued a call for corporations to pledge that at least 15% of their products sold from black-owned businesses. Her message was aimed at large retailers like Net-a-Porter and Sephora, but the idea resonates. Couldn’t fashion retailers and customers be routing their funds to support black designers and black-owned stores in America right now? Law Roach, the stylist for Celine Dion and Zendaya, is starting a fund to support black-owned businesses is starting a fund to support black-owned businesses that have been damaged by violence or are uninsured, pledging $25,000 of his own money and asking for donations from others in the industry.
Raising awareness has been the predominant mode of communication across social media, and the list of designers who have posted is long. Lorod shared a document with articles and information aimed at educating people on race relations in America made by Chase Hall and Tamara Santibanes. Marc Jacobs spoke out about the looting and graffiti that has gone on in major cities. ‘Never let the convince you that broken glass or property is violence’, Jacob’s note began. ‘property can be replaced, human lives cannot’.
Model Duckie Thot took to Twitter to say that while the industry is quick to cast her in campaigns and in runway shows, few brands are taking viable action to support the black community. Today, many are calling out Virgil Abloh, the creative director of Louis Vuitton menswear and founder of Off-White, for what they see as a meager donation to Fempower. The reality is that fashion is an industry that benefits from community level, but there is more work to be done.