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  • Stephanie Rosa

Systemic Racism in the Fashion Industry

Racism, unfortunately, is not a new concept in our society. It has been around for centuries, affecting countless individuals and communities in a variety of ways. One industry that has been significantly impacted by systemic racism is the fashion industry. Despite being one of the largest and most influential industries in the world, fashion has a history of perpetuating racist beliefs and practices. In this blog, we will discuss the ways in which systemic racism manifests in the fashion industry and what can be done to combat it.

One of the most visible forms of systemic racism in the fashion industry is the lack of diversity among models and fashion designers. The industry has long been dominated by white individuals, with few opportunities for people of color to participate or advance. This has led to a homogenized representation of beauty and style, which perpetuates harmful stereotypes and reinforces the notion that people of color are not good enough to be part of the industry. Moreover, models of color are often underpaid and subjected to discriminatory practices, such as being told to straighten their hair or change their skin tone to fit a particular standard of beauty.

Another aspect of systemic racism in the fashion industry is the cultural appropriation of traditional dress, hairstyles, and accessories from marginalized communities. This is a form of theft in which fashion companies take elements of other cultures and use them in their collections without giving credit or compensation to the communities they are taking from. This practice reinforces the notion that people of color are inferior and their cultures are disposable, while also exploiting and commodifying the cultural heritage of marginalized communities.

The fashion industry also contributes to systemic racism by perpetuating harmful and racist imagery through their marketing and advertising campaigns. Advertisements that depict people of color as exotic or primitive reinforce harmful stereotypes and perpetuate racism. Moreover, many fashion brands continue to use racist imagery and symbols in their branding and advertising, which sends a message that they do not take racism seriously.

To combat systemic racism in the fashion industry, we need to take a multi-faceted approach. Firstly, the industry needs to actively work to increase diversity and representation in all areas, from models to designers to executives. This can be achieved by setting specific goals for diversity, implementing hiring practices that encourage diversity, and providing training and education to staff on the importance of diversity and inclusion.

Additionally, the industry must work to eliminate cultural appropriation and promote cultural appreciation instead. This can be achieved by educating employees about different cultures and their heritage, as well as ensuring that any use of cultural elements is done with the proper respect and credit given to the community.

Finally, the fashion industry must take responsibility for the messages they are sending through their marketing and advertising campaigns. Brands should strive to use imagery that is inclusive and respectful, and avoid perpetuating harmful and racist stereotypes. In conclusion, systemic racism is a pervasive problem in the fashion industry, and it is up to all of us to work together to eliminate it. By promoting diversity, combating cultural appropriation, and being mindful of the messages we are sending through our marketing and advertising, we can work towards a more inclusive and equitable fashion industry.


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