The Latest Problem with the Fashion Industry

The Latest Problem with the Fashion Industry

i’m officially a troll. not really, just someone who holds passionate views and speaks about them on the internet. actually, that might be the definition of a troll.

no matter what you call me, the truth is it’s time to speak up about the latest problem with the fashion industry.

for years, folks have called out a lack of diversity on fashion runways and magazines. diverse races, shapes and ages have all taken a backseat to thin, young, white models. lately, it helps when you’re the .02% of the population with a famous last name.

while some brands are making attempts to step outside the restrictive beauty standards, most have a very long way to go. recently, revolve hosted one of its epic trips abroad with some of the most famous influencers on instagram. my first reaction to the campaign was, “damn, guess i’ll never get a major opportunity like this.”

seeing revolve partner with only young skinny white-looking women (and an asian for flavor) made me nauseous. it reminded me of that time i was an internet troll.

i’m a youtube junkie. my girlfriend rolls her eyes every time she hears, “i’m back again with another video…” blasting from the television. however, something hit me like a ton of bricks on one of my recent binges. there were no people of color at any of the sponsored events attended by this major influencer. zip. zero. nada.

so i commented on the painfully obvious. the influencer got mad as hell.

her immediate response was the old familiar: “i have lots of black friends.” without taking time to reflect on the broader issue with the fashion industry, she took my criticism personally. as if i was calling her racist. she might be, but that wasn’t my point.

the issue is systemic. whether in the uk or us, major brands like revolve are actively choosing to work with the same network of influencers with ashamedly limited diversity. women of different skin colors, sizes, ages and abilities are seriously ignored. with influencers, the easy response to this issue is that there are fewer black, brown and curvy women with large social media followings.

however, it’s a catch 22 to expect black, brown and curvy influencers to have a large following when we’re seldom given the same platform to grow our following. it’s similar to the saying, “it takes money to make money.”

the saddest part about this contradiction is major brands and their customers (which are very diverse btw) are missing some of the most amazing digital content creators that exist.

some folks will take this post as a big rant or say, “just stop shopping at xyz problematic brand.” if you believe the former, then this platform isn’t for you. if you believe the latter, then i hear you and agree. however, that places all the responsibility on the folks affected by the issue. what about the influencers profiting from the limited seats at the table?

today more than ever, brands are investing large amounts of their budgets on digital marketing. marketing that then floods our timelines, explore feeds on instagram and ultimately, influences our buying choices. yes, i can choose to no longer shop at revolve, but i can also choose to point out the monolithic influencers who join their campaigns. further, i can unfollow the influencers refusing to take a stand on the lack of diversity in the industry.

ultimately, we need to hold brands, influencers and ourselves accountable. we don’t need another hashtag. we need real change.

jacket, vintage (similar here)

earrings, rachel comey

turtleneck, anthropologie

velvet sock boots, marc fisher

many thanks to hotel indigo in alexandria, virginia for the opportunity to shoot at their hotel. as usual, thanks for supporting the brands that support politics & fashion.