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BFC responds to Black Lives Matter calls

By Danielle Wightman-Stone

10 Jun 2020


The British Fashion Council has pledged to “double” its effort to tackle systemic racism within the fashion industry, following the Black Lives Matter protests for change after the tragic and senseless death of unarmed black man George Floyd at the hands of police in the US.

In a statement on social media, Caroline Rush, chief executive of the British Fashion Council said: “It is four months since the last London Fashion Week (LFW), the global showcase of British design, and the world has changed immeasurably since then.

“Covid-19 has put a huge number of fashion businesses and jobs at risk, but it has also forced us to adapt and innovate. Like every other industry, the pandemic has given us pause to reflect and recognise that we need to re-set, to do things differently.

“The recent events in the US have shown that none is more urgent than the need to fight racial prejudice and discrimination. Where before, much of the dialogue in our industry was focused on tackling climate change, we must now also double our efforts to take on racism in all its forms and reflect why it has taken these extremes to galvanise the industry into action.”

British Fashion Council announces action plan to tackle racism

Rush added: “This work must start with listening and challenging one another to ensure that there is no conscious or unconscious prejudice in our industry. By listening to BAME designers, colleagues, friends and family members, there is much more that we can do.

“11 years ago when I came into this role, I could count on one hand the number of BAME designers on the LFW schedule. Today, the talent that comes through our support schemes is much more representative of the society that we live in. The models on our catwalks are much more diverse and represent our multi-cultural society. But just like with climate action, we need to do more and we need to do it now.”

To ensure that the British Fashion Council tackles racism, Rush announced an action plan, including broadening the diversity of its board of directors, auditing all advisory boards and committees to ensure diversity is “better represented”, as well as reviewing its recruitment processes and policies to address why its workforce does not have more representation from the BAME community.

“We will listen to the BAME community in our industry to look at where we can improve, what the industry can do better and create programmes and guidelines to address this, that we will share on the IPF and BFC websites so that we can be held accountable,” concluded Rush.

The British Fashion Council’s statement follows an open letter from the Council of Fashion Designers of America signed by chairman Tom Ford and president Steven Kolb that laid out initiatives to bring about "systemic change”, including creating an in-house employment programme and mentorship scheme for black talent, as well as making donations to charitable organisations aimed at equalising the playing field for the black community including the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and Campaign Zero.

Image: courtesy of British Fashion Council - London Fashion Week