Want to hear more on this topic?
On March 11, join Vanessa Friedman, New York Times fashion director, and industry leaders like Olivier Rousteing and Pierpaolo Piccioli, as they debate how the industry can make real change.
But There Is Still a Very Long Way to Go
When it comes to the power structure of established brands, and the designers who represent them, Black representation is incredibly small.
Of the 64 brands we contacted, only Off-White has a Black chief executive — and that man, Virgil Abloh, is also the founder.
Of the 69 designers or creative directors at those companies, only four are Black. (One of them, Mr. Abloh, runs two brands: Off-White and Louis Vuitton men’s wear; the others are Olivier Rousteing of Balmain; Rushemy Botter, a co-designer of Nina Ricci; and Kanye West.) This number just shrank by one when LVMH and Rihanna hit pause on her Fenty fashion house. There had been one Black woman at the head of a major Parisian luxury brand. Now there are none.
Five top designer jobs have come up since the summer. Four went to white men and one to Gabriela Hearst, a Latina woman from Uruguay.
And of the brands we examined, only six of them, and three of their parent companies, work with the Black in Fashion Council. Those companies are all American, despite the fact the council works with other international organizations.
Of the 15 public companies in this group, seven have boards with at least one Black director. Of those, two (Capri and Ralph Lauren) have more than one.
Retail establishments and magazines are likewise lacking in Black representation in leadership.
Two of the seven retailers that responded, or whose C-suite information was publicly available, have a single Black member of the executive team. The rest have none.
Two of nine magazines we examined, which included international editions of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar and Elle, are led by Black editors in chief.
Of the retailers we surveyed, two had joined the 15 Percent Pledge: Bloomingdale’s and, this month, Moda Operandi. One company, MatchesFashion, published its own breakdown of how designers self-reported their ethnicities — but out of 715 designers, 223 had not responded.
Of the magazines, Vogue and InStyle have signed the pledge, committing to commission at least 15 percent Black talent, including photographers and writers.