Black Lives Matter: What Your Brand Can Be Doing
3 June 2020
Author: Jasmine Waters
Most will not be strangers to much of the news from the across the pond over the last week, with the death of George Floyd sparking protests across the country and internationally. It feels as though we are on the cusp of serious change in behaviour and conversation – you only need to look on a social media feed to see the outrage and call to action. In the midst of this, many have noted the want and need for the fashion industry to speak up and address the situation, with some brands beginning to do so to mixed responses. What information is available to us – and how can we utilise it for the right reasons?
Why has there been a mixed response?
Ultimately, a mixed consumer response in any situation comes back to the question of how the issue has been addressed in the first place. Both potential and long-term consumers will be quick to tell you when they don’t believe you are actively practising what you are preaching. Let’s take L’Oreal Paris as an example. On June 1st, the company released a statement sympathising in solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement but fired model Munroe Bergdorf from a campaign in 2017 after she called out racism in the wake of the Charlotte riots. This feeds into ‘performative protesting’ – claiming to support a movement just for show, but not having these ideals ingrained into either your business or your personal ethos. Compare this to Glossier, who announced they would be donating $500,000 to a variety of organizations, as well as investing a further $500,000 into grants for black-owned beauty businesses. Obviously not all brands have the access to these kinds of funds, but the commitment to change and learning is something that can be put into action in a variety of ways.
What can your brand actively do to support?
Particularly for white industry individuals, there may be a fear of saying the wrong thing or delivering a message that doesn’t resonate in the intended way. That being said, consumers will remember those that spoke during this time period and also remember those that stayed silent. A good place to start could be committing yourself – as a brand or individual – to learn and absorb as much as possible. Making sure what you embody is not revolving around what you directly do but supporting and lifting up the voices of people of colour (POC) instead. On top of this education, there are many funds that can be donated to, such as the Black Lives Matter Fund and ACLU, but also coming together as an industry community to share vital information, petitions and supporting other brands that may have been affected by riots or loss of money.
The most important thing we can do is listen. Being prepared to take on feedback for what we do. Sometimes our good intentions don’t always translate, and that’s okay – it shouldn’t stop us from continuing to learn and continuing to be actively anti-racist. We should keep in our view what our black consumers and black-owned brands need from us and continue to call into question things that need to be challenged. This is a perfect time to harness the personal engagement and connections we strive to build with our consumer bases, expanding our existing brand ethos’. Having platforms within the industry is a great privilege and a way to support so many beyond our initial reach – because all lives can’t matter until black lives matter.
Helpful resources: https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.co/
Image source: https://hu.pinterest.com/pin/324048135667810174/