DKNY and Public School designer Maxwell Osborne is calling on the fashion industry to take a bold political step by standing up for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Last Thursday, the New York-based influencer penned an open letter in W Magazine entitled, "Why I Stand with Black Lives Matter," detailing why it's so vital for the multibillion dollar industry to speak up when it comes to issues of race in the United States.
"As a black man in an overwhelmingly white industry, race is never far from my mind," Osborne wrote. "But the Black Lives Matter movement has underscored the still astounding disparities African Americans face – at their homes, at their places of business, at the voting booth."
"But I write this open letter to encourage the fashion industry to not just continue the dialogue of race in America, but to do something about it. Fashion exists in a world of make believe. Our job is to offer an escape from everyday life and a fantasy of glamour and beautiful clothes. It’s easy to forget the real world with its very real problems. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Fashion is always at its best when it looks outside of itself for inspiration and holds up a mirror to society. Sometimes we do that on the runway and sometimes when we come together as an industry and take up important causes, like so many of our peers have and continue to do with breast cancer and HIV/AIDS.
"Stand with Black Lives Matter. Go out and educate yourself and learn how you can help and join the conversation as an active participant and not just as a passive, if well-meaning, observer. Encourage diversity on your runways and campaigns. Empower your social media fans to raise their voices. Use your designs for the public good. Attend a protest and see change in action. Raise awareness – it’s not as empty a gesture as it may seem – and others will follow your lead."
You can read the full letter on W Magazine online.
But the DKNY designer isn't the first to call on the fashion industry to stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.
One group of protesters recently made a impactful statement at New York Fashion Week: Men's without even having to say a word.
Lead by fashion blogger Hannah Stoudemire, men and women alike of all races stood near the doors of that day's runway shows in complete silence. With raised fists, T-shirts and signs reading "Black Lives Matter," "Sandra Bland" and "Stop Killing Us" many onlookers were probably left with a lot to think about, the Cut reported last week.
However, despite multiple initiatives to encourage the fashion world to get on board, actually seeing this come into fruition may unfortunately prove to be a tough sell.
In early July, model Ebonee Davis wrote her own open letter in Harper's Bazaar, noting her struggles with racism as a black model in a business that still seems to be struggling with embracing diversity.
"I was told that brands only booked black girls if they looked like they'd been 'plucked from a remote village in Africa' or like a 'white model dipped in chocolate,'" she wrote. "And from the start of my career in 2011, I lived by those words."
But despite the harsh criticisms the model has faced, she was still able to offer some frank guidance.
"My advice to models, fashion designers and public relation agencies: use your personal platforms to speak out against injustice and show your support rather than standing by in silence. Most importantly, love black people as much as you love black music and black culture."
Do you think the fashion industry should be more vocal about Black Lives Matter? Let us know in the comments below.
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