The Business of Fashion Podcast
Combatting Anti-Asian Racism in Fashion

Combatting Anti-Asian Racism in Fashion

March 26, 2021

BoF’s Imran Amed talks with Michelle Lee, Susanna Lau and Phillip Lim about the intersectional issues and structural barriers at the core of Anti-Asian hate, and how the fashion professionals can be better allies.

The Year That Changed the World

The Year That Changed the World

March 19, 2021

A year after coronavirus lockdowns swept the world, BoF’s Imran Amed looks back at a period of sweeping change in conversation with leading voices from inside and outside fashion.

Somali Supermodel Iman on the Struggle for Representation in Fashion

Somali Supermodel Iman on the Struggle for Representation in Fashion

March 16, 2021

The Black model and entrepreneur speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about paving the way for a more inclusive fashion industry — and the work that remains to be done.

 

Iman stands out as a trailblazer in the fashion industry. She was one of the first Black models to star on the catwalk and followed her modelling career with a successful cosmetics business designed for women of colour. While she helped pave the way for more representation, she also experienced first hand the racism and discrimination that persists within the industry today.

In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, Iman speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about her experiences and the work that still needs to be done to address the problem.

  • The supermodel credits her mother’s empowering vision of self-worth for enabling her to navigate a tricky industry. “[Self-worth] is what [my mother] heavily instilled in me to be able to walk away from anything that doesn’t serve you well regardless [of] how enticing it is,” she said. “Whether it’s a man or work or whatever it is … I would always make the right decision for myself if I had a sense of self-worth.”

  • Iman has achieved stellar success and helped pave the way for greater representation throughout the industry, but throughout her career, she’s had to work harder than her peers to secure her place. “Most of the time makeup artists had no clue how to do our makeup,” says Iman. “Forget about hair, that is why most of the pictures you will see [Black women’s] hair is just pulled back because [stylists] didn’t know what to do with it.”

  • Iman remains actively involved in efforts to tackle racism in the industry through The Black Girls Coalition, a pressure group she co-founded with close friend Bethann Hardison to highlight the lack of representation in the fashion industry. “It’s a learning experience because you just have to manoeuvre and find your place in this system [as a Black woman and model.]”

 

Related Articles:

Secrets of the Supermodel Trade

The BoF Podcast: Tackling Systemic Racism in the Fashion Industry

Op-Ed | Racial Diversity on the Runway

 

To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link.

Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business. 

The Business of the British Monarchy: What Happens Now?

The Business of the British Monarchy: What Happens Now?

March 12, 2021

On Sunday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex — also known as Harry and Meghan — rocked the world when they revealed intimate details about their experiences in the British royal family and their decision to step back as ‘senior members’ in an interview with Oprah Winfrey. What they revealed in the interview has left not just the UK and the Commonwealth reeling, but challenged the entire world’s perception of the monarchy. BoF’s Imran Amed sat down with Elizabeth Holmes, a New York Times bestselling author, notable ‘royal watcher’ and style expert to contextualise the conversation with Winfrey and what it means for the future of royal fashion.

”When Princess Diana left the Royal Family, she made it very clear she did not need fashion in the same way, because she was able to use her own voice… And I think Meghan — now in her move to California — definitely doesn’t need it either,” Holmes said. “She will still continue to use it and promote brands that she believes in and has connections to, but when you can use your voice, you’re not relying on your fashion to talk for you.”

 

Related Articles:

Have We Reached Peak Royalty?

Monetising Meghan Markle

Could Meghan Markle Cash In on Her Powerful Influencer Status?

 

External clips courtesy of Today, India Today, Sky News Australia, CPAC, Good Morning Britain, Harpo Productions/CBS, and CTV News.

 

To subscribe to The BoF Podcast, please follow this link.

Join BoF Professional for the analysis and advice you need. Get 30 days for just $1 or explore group subscriptions for your business. 

Racism and Inequality Are Stitched Into the Garments We Wear

Racism and Inequality Are Stitched Into the Garments We Wear

February 12, 2021

This week, Doug Stephens speaks with Kalkidan Legesse and Robert Hoppenheim about the imperative for fashion to take responsibility for the people it impacts.

 

The pandemic’s economic impact is radically changing the retail landscape, but for fashion, the fallout is not just financial. The crisis has amplified anger over racial injustice and financial inequality among consumers and employees, redoubling pressure on brands to adjust their operations to serve both shareholders and the greater good. Increasingly, companies must respond to demands for change from outside the boardroom.

In this week’s podcast, retail columnist Doug Stephens discusses how the fashion industry must address the systemic inequality and racism buried in its supply chain with the co-founder of UK-based ethical brand and retailer Sancho’s, Kalkidan Legesse, and the founder of brand strategy and communications advisory Kindustry, Robert Hoppenheim.

 

External clips courtesy of BBC, NBC Latino,  and CGTN. 

 

Related Articles:

Retailers Pledged Action on Diversity. Delivery Is Proving More Elusive.

Op-Ed | Fashion Brands Must Treat Garment Workers as Employees

The BoF Podcast: Rashad Robinson on Addressing Racial Inequality in Fashion

To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email podcast@businessoffashion.com.

 

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

 

Ready to become a BoF Professional? For a limited time, enjoy 25% discount on an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.

 

For all sponsorship enquiries, it’s: advertising@businessoffashion.com

 
Robin Givhan on the US Capitol Siege and Vogue’s Kamala Harris Cover

Robin Givhan on the US Capitol Siege and Vogue’s Kamala Harris Cover

January 14, 2021

Speaking with Imran Amed, the Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large shares her thoughts on the controversially ‘familiar’ image of the vice president-elect, and explains where it sits within the wider political climate of the United States as it is due to enter a new chapter.

When the cover of American Vogue’s February issue leaked on Saturday, January 9, a flurry of controversy ensued. Many took to social media to deride the image of vice president-elect Kamala Harris, lensed by Tyler Mitchell, for its casual styling, unflattering lighting and lack of gravitas. The criticism focused on the argument that the portrait lacked the stately deference they believed such a political figure — not least the first Black, South Asian female vice-president — should command.Among those to share their thoughts was Robin Givhan, The Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large who penned a column on January 11 in which she said “the cover did not give Kamala D. Harris due respect… It was a cover image that, in effect, called Harris by her first name without invitation.” Givhan, who became the first fashion writer to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism in 2006, sat down with Imran Amed in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, to further discuss the cover’s significance and the wider tumultuous landscape of US politics. 
  • Debating Harris’ portrait is about more than just a critique of the technicalities and production value of a fashion glossy. Its release comes at a time of political division and fraught race relations, just days after a violent right-wing mob stormed Washington D.C.’s Capitol building, an event incited by President Trump, who now faces a second impeachment for his involvement in the incident. “The last few years have been an exhausting, emotionally draining time,” said Givhan. “I was very surprised that [the cover] became such an issue. I was really stunned that people were so exercised about it. When you think about it, it’s [like] pain from a thousand papercuts, and this was the 1001st papercut.”
  • The informality of the image chosen for the print cover carries greater historical significance and weight. Vogue and Anna Wintour defended it as an extension of the Biden-Harris campaign’s platform of accessibility, which Givhan described as a “legitimate” point of view. But, she said, “I think that the upset is rooted not so much in the current moment but its history. Throughout history, Black women in particular were not given the kind of respect that white women were. People had this familiarity with Black women that was not about friendship and equality but was condescending. Understanding the complicated nature of that would give one pause in presenting the first female vice president — a Black woman — in that way.”
  • While the alternative digital cover image, which depicts Harris in a more presidential light and formal style, offers some reprieve, this print issue has significance as a cultural souvenir (“you can’t give a screengrab to your grandchildren,” said Givhan), and there is no real opportunity for a do-over. “There’s no way to make people happy,” said Givhan, adding that it’s important to instead listen to criticism and “recognise where things went astray” in allowing this misstep to happen. “You just have to do better the next time, and the time after that and the time after that.”

External clips courtesy of Good Morning America and ABC7 News

 

Related Articles:
Anna Wintour Speaks on VP Cover Controversy, Amazon and Diversity Efforts
The Risks and Rewards of Dressing American Politicians 

 
Find out more about #BoFVOICES  here.
 
To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email podcast@businessoffashion.com.
 

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

Ready to become a BoF Professional? For a limited time, enjoy 25% discount on an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.

For all sponsorship enquiries, it’s: advertising@businessoffashion.com.

 

Big Tech’s Threat to Fashion

Big Tech’s Threat to Fashion

January 12, 2021
It’s hard to imagine running a successful brand in 2021 without advertising on Instagram, buying search ads on Google or selling on Amazon. At BoF VOICES, H&M’s Christopher Wylie and venture capitalist Roger McNamee talked about why that’s probably not a good thing — and how the industry can reduce its reliance on tech giants.
 
Before the pandemic, social media and e-commerce giants like Facebook and Amazon were ascendant. The physical isolation caused by the ongoing global health crisis has only consolidated their power. Nevertheless, fashion brands can’t rely on a handful of Silicon Valley firms to run their businesses, venture capitalist Roger McNamee said at BoF’s VOICES.
 
In an interview with Christopher Wylie, who blew the whistle on Cambridge Analytica’s improper use of Facebook user data during the 2016 election, McNamee outlined how big tech has touched off a “cascading series of catastrophes going from the online world into the real world.”
In fashion, Facebook, Amazon and Google have inserted themselves between brands and their customers. Though they offer unparalleled marketing and commerce capabilities, McNamee noted their clients pay a steep price in the long run by ceding control of such crucial elements of their businesses. But all is not lost.
 
“The fashion industry has a superpower,” he said. “You’re actually connected to culture, so people care what you have to say. You have to recognise as an industry that these guys are changing the rules and you have to fight back.”
 
 
Find out more about #BoFVOICES here.
 
To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email podcast@businessoffashion.com.
 
Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.
Ready to become a BoF Professional? For a limited time, enjoy 25% discount on an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.
 
For all sponsorship enquiries, it’s: advertising@businessoffashion.com.
Rashad Robinson on Addressing Racial Inequality in Fashion

Rashad Robinson on Addressing Racial Inequality in Fashion

December 17, 2020

This summer’s protests forced fashion to examine its longstanding issues with racial discrimination at every level. At BoF VOICES, Color Of Change president Rashad Robinson laid out how to turn the industry’s new awareness into meaningful action.

In 2020, the fashion industry reckoned with its history — and present — of racial discrimination. Companies promised to address the lack of Black voices on their creative teams and in the C-suite, as well as toxic internal cultures.But visibility is only the first step. Now is the time to “translate caring into action,” Color Of Change president Rashad Robinson said at BoF’s VOICES.The most important change the industry can make, he said, is to stop talking about race in a passive voice. It’s not that Black people are less likely to get hired in the fashion industry — rather, the fashion industry excludes Black people.Inclusivity measures such as mentorship and creating career pipelines for Black employees are inadequate, he went on to say. Too much effort is focused on “fixing” individuals, without addressing the system that created barriers to advancement in the first place.“When we talk about vulnerable communities, we spend our time trying to fix those people,” Robinson said. “When we talk about systems and structures, we spend our time trying to fix those systems and those structures.”

 

Find out more about #BoFVOICES  here.
 
To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email podcast@businessoffashion.com.
 

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

Ready to become a BoF Professional? For a limited time, enjoy 25% discount on an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.

For all sponsorship enquiries, it’s: advertising@businessoffashion.com.

Tremaine Emory on Mixing Politics and Fashion

Tremaine Emory on Mixing Politics and Fashion

November 12, 2020
Imran Amed talks to the designer, also known as Denim Tears, about the US election and putting conditions on his collaboration with Converse.
 
This is just the beginning for designer Tremaine Emory. Following the US election, the designer, who is also known as Denim Tears, spoke to BoF’s Imran Amed about negotiating with big brands, leading with purpose and the work still ahead. “It’s been an incredible week and there’s a lot more work to do,” said Emory. “I hope this is the start.”
 
  • For Emory, principles come first when it comes to working with big brands, especially if they are using corporate activism in their marketing. The designer notably withheld the release of a collaboration with Converse earlier this year, posting a set of conditions for parent company Nike on Instagram that ranged from disclosing the number of Black employees in leadership roles to stopping all support for the Republican party. “I can’t put these sneakers out if all the company is doing is donating money,” said Emory. “I need to know specifically what they’re doing to combat police brutality in Black neighbourhoods… Who are we protecting with this money?” In negotiations with brands, Emory delineated the tango that comes with corporate partnerships: “Their number one thing is making money... how can I dance their bottom line with my bottom line?”
  • Reflecting on the results of the election, Emory emphasised the importance of registering young voters and getting them excited about the upcoming senate elections, particularly in his home state of Georgia. “We’re going to work to get people to vote and get Democrats in those seats,” he said.
  • Emory also hopes to introduce young consumers to new ideas and ways of thinking about American history and civil rights. “That’s probably my favourite part of my practice is being a bridge of knowledge between generations,” he said. “How can I condense... a James Baldwin book [or] a Black Panther book into a T-shirt?”
 
Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here.
 
To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions or speaker ideas please email podcast@businessoffashion.com.
 

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

Ready to become a BoF Professional? For a limited time, enjoy 25% discount on an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.

For all sponsorship enquiries, it’s: advertising@businessoffashion.com.

Stella Jean Asks ‘Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion?’

Stella Jean Asks ‘Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion?’

August 27, 2020

The Italian-Haitian designer and the only Black member of Italy’s Camera della Moda speaks to BoF Editor-in-Chief about racism within the country’s fashion industry.

LONDON, United Kingdom —  For designer Stella Jean, enough is enough. “It’s time to turn the page” and demand fashion reform, she said. Last month, alongside Milan-based designer Edward Buchanan, Jean issued letters to Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera della Moda, and to the organisation’s 14 executive members in what Jean described as “an historical appeal to bring to the forefront for the first time in our history, the paradoxical taboo topic of racism in Italy… and also to support Black designers who are still invisible in the business of Italian fashion.”
In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Jean sat down with BoF Founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed to share her personal history growing up the daughter of a Haitian mother and Italian father, discuss the systemic racism within Italy’s fashion sector and focus on fostering change.
  • The self-taught designer, whose clothes have been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna and Zendaya, called out fashion giants for making “performative gestures of public support” regarding racism in America, while simultaneously “overlooking what is happening to the Black minority in their own country among its workforce.” During the virtual call with Amed, Jean shared that she had received a letter from Capasa regarding the creation of a new unit in the Italian fashion council to tackle racism within the sector. Jean hopes that this will transform her question “do Black lives matter in Italian fashion?’” into the statement “Black lives matter in Italian fashion.”
  • In order to effect change, fashion leaders and executives must have an open discussion about what more can be done to boost diversity within their organisations, Jean said. While brands rushed to post black squares on social media, Jean urged leaders to first address the lack of diversity within their corporate structures. “[Brands] have long preached multiculturalism but have rarely applied such concepts beyond the media window… [and] in the spaces away from the spotlight where no one is watching,” she said. “[This is a] wound that we have ignored for far too long… If you don’t understand that awareness is the first step in solving the problem, this wound will never heal.”
  • For Jean, who founded the sustainable development initiative Laboratorio delle Nazioni, growing up in the 1980s “and struggling [with] being so diverse from [her] fellow citizens has motivated [her] to find a way to show people not to be afraid of different cultures and colours, but instead to see them… as a chance to grow better and together.” Jean recognises fashion as a tool that can offer fair and equitable opportunities for people in low-income countries. When Jean creates a collection she meets and works with various artisans in countries like Peru, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Mali or Pakistan for example, researching and learning about the local indigenous skills to then create a textile or garment, combining the country’s traditional craftsmanship with Italian design. “The beauty of fashion is it has no borders,” Jean said.

Related Articles:
Op-Ed | Fashion Is Part of the Race Problem
Op-Ed | Inclusivity Demands More Than a Show
Fashion's New Stella

Watch and listen to more #BoFLIVE conversations here. To contact The Business of Fashion with comments, questions, or speaker ideas please e-mail podcast@businessoffashion.com.

 

Sign up for BoF’s Daily Digest newsletter.

 

Ready to become a BoF Professional? For a limited time, enjoy 25% discount on an annual membership, exclusively for podcast listeners. Simply, click here, select the Annual Package and use code PODCASTPRO at the checkout.

For all sponsorship enquiries, it’s: advertising@businessoffashion.com.

Podbean App

Play this podcast on Podbean App