Daily protests have emerged all across the country following the killing of George Floyd on May 25 by former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin. As the Black community and allies take to social media to demand justice for Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and countless others who have lost their lives to state-sanctioned violence, many are beginning to look at large fashion brands who are heavily supported by the Black community and expecting them to take a stand.
When it comes to “influencing” culture, it is these brands, with hundreds of thousands to millions of followers and hugely diverse customer bases, with connections to individuals in high-power positions, that are among the few, outside of political officials and activists, that hold influence in times like these.
Many brands have fallen short, have been delayed on their messaging, or have altogether been silent regarding police brutality and the fight for basic human rights. Some have released generic, almost empty, statements, while others have spread awareness in a way that feels more authentic and promotes action.
This is a telling and powerful moment for the Black community. As responses to the call for solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement have trickled in, internet users have taken to social media to discuss where and where not to use their Black dollars and which corporations are seemingly not worth supporting anymore. The conversation has inspired people to share lists of Black-owned brands to support instead.
The argument of whether or not the community even needs a statement from these large corporations has been a debate. Silence, or only reacting after pressure from social media, is a stance of opposition in itself, some have argued. But still, the influence of these companies cannot be denied.
Ahead, here’s a look at how various fashion brands have addressed police brutality and racism against Black bodies.
One of the most highly criticized responses came from PrettyLittleThing. Initially, the brand shared an animated image on Twitter of a white and black hand (many found the hand offensively dark) joined in unison. Beauty influencer, Jackie Aina posted to Twitter that she had just gotten off the phone with the company’s CEO, letting him know the graphic was a “hell no.” The brand has since deleted their initial tweet, sharing a new graphic on Instagram that includes a petition link. In latest news, they’ve put their money where their mouth is by committing to donating 100% of proceeds of their new collection with Saweetie to the Black Lives Matter movement.
House of CB
The brand suggested donating to Black Lives Matter, The Equal Justice Initiative, NAACP, Black Visions Collective and ACLU. Founder, Conna Walker took to her personal Instagram to call for her white peers to raise “actively anti-racist children,” saying that “racisim isn’t ‘out there’ in ‘those’ white people. It’s inside all of us white people. Yes, me. Yes, you. In more covert insidious ways that it shows up in our everyday normalised behaviour.”
Fashion Nova has pledged 1 million dollars in donations to black movements.
Perhaps one of the most thoughtful brand responses comes from Reebok. The brand is one of the only to acknowledge the important detail of the black community’s contribution to retail, and
America as a whole.
Jacquemus has shared generic “Black Lives Matter” posts and reposted a video from 12-year-old musician Keedron Bryant singing of a black man’s pain. The brand did share petition links and other valuable information via Instagram Stories.
On Thursday, June 4th all Gucci operations in the United States will pause for employees to have a day of mourning, honor the lives lost, and recommit ourselves to being part of the solution.
The shoe brand participated in Black Out Tuesday with three blank posts after silence on their Instagram feeds, though the designer has shared information regarding the movement on her personal Instagram stories. The brand went one step further by switching out their website link in their Instagram bio for a link to a Ways You Can Help resource page.
The brand shared a visual by Julian Klincewicz, commissioned by Virgil Abloh for his Coming of Age Louis Vuitton exhibition (though there is still no response to the Black Lives Matter movement
on Virgil’s own brand’s page, Off-White). The video’s meaning is vague and features a hip hop soundtrack.
The designer shared a personal note on his realization of racism on the brand’s page, with a very important quote from Will Smith: “Racism is not getting ‘worse,’ it’s getting filmed.”
The brand’s Instagram post subtly acknowledges that black people “define what [they] do” in their anti-racism statement.
Versace shared a generic post and also participated in Black Out Tuesday.
The brand shared two black out posts.
The Kim Kardashian-run brand shared a visual with a text link to a petition for justice for George Floyd.
Fenty and Savage x Fenty
Taking Black Out Tuesday a step further, both Rihanna-owned brands stopped all online operation for the day. Fenty’s homepage now instead shares a link for donations to Color of Change and M4BL. Savage x Fenty’s homepage shares donation links to Black Lives Matter NY, Reclaim the Block, and The Bail Project.
Good American announced that they were “going dark” on social media in honor of George Floyd.
Forever 21 is another brand to rightfully share the names of recent police brutality victims.
Amid being subject to looting, Heather Sander’s brand, Sorella, shared a text link to a petition for justice for George Floyd.
Marc Jacobs is one of the few brands to share the names of police brutality victims, sharing a photo to honor Sandra Bland and George Floyd. On the designer’s personal account, Jacobs shares a statement indicating his support of protesting following the looting of one of his own store fronts in Los Angeles, CA: “Never let them convince you that broken glass or property is violence… Racism is violence. White supremacy is violence… Property can be replaced. Human lives cannot.”
Sneaker store and online shop Stadium Goods gives credit to the Black culture for the success of their establishment.
Fendi shares that they stand against racism, along with participating in Black Out Tuesday.