On Wednesday 16th September 2020, British Fashion Council (BFC) announced its Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, an essential part of its long-term plan to fight prejudice and discrimination and galvanise the industry into action. The Committee is made up of industry and BFC representatives and its role will be to address key challenges facing minority communities in gaining fair representation within the fashion industry.
The Committee’s priorities will include stamping out racism and addressing the specific challenges each minority community faces within the fashion industry. The Committee will work as part of the Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF) to set the bar for accountability and best practice for all fashion businesses, and alongside the wider BFC team to address existing programmes.
The Committee issued its Mission Statement ahead of London Fashion Week September 2020:
“The Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee aspires for the fashion industry to be open for all and reflect the diverse, global communities it inspires and serves.
The Committee aims to reach this ambition by bringing together leaders in business, culture and education to create a framework which will build better, broader engagement and access for all under-represented groups; creating more opportunities and driving greater diversity throughout the industry.
Its ambition is to create true equity, increase diversity and inclusion and provide a platform to role models who will inspire future generations.
In year one, the Diversity & Inclusion Steering Group commits to:
- Create a D&I framework fashion businesses of all sizes can implement to reach global leading standards: The BFC will support businesses through providing practical advice and toolkits to ensure organisations can create change and measure their successes.
- Ensure development programmes are fair and equitable for all: The BFC will review all its current programmes, from scholarships to Fashion Weeks. In addition, the Council will look at Talent ID programmes and networks to ensure that diverse perspectives and voices are heard during selection processes.
- Create inclusive cultures: The need for inclusive representationhas never been The BFC will challenge and address racism, prejudice and biases and will promote allyship by providing toolkits that will support both businesses and individuals. The BFC will also address barriers to entry and career progression for underrepresented groups and, specifically, support the development of resources to recognise the influence of black culture on the fashion industry.”
From June 2020, the BFC has taken a series of actions to fight prejudice and discriminations that include:
- The appointment of three new Non-Executive Directors to its Executive Board: Jamie Gill, Chief Executive Roksanda; June Sarpong OBE, Director of Creative Diversity BBC; Scott Morrison, Founder The Boom!
- The diversity monitoring of initiatives and business support programmes
- Hosting fortnightly calls with the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic fashion community while developing its Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee. The calls allowed participants to address challenges and start working on solutions and next steps for the industry. More than 200 industry professionals were invited to join the calls.
- The creation of a Diversity & Inclusion Internal Working Group whose role is to make sure it moves the D&I agenda forward internally with a yearlong strategy.
The Missing Thread
The BFC’s Institute of Positive Fashion announced its second project, The Missing Thread, in partnership with the Black Oriented Legacy Development Agency on 28.20.2020. The project will celebrate British Black Fashion & Culture from 1975 to now through a series of programmed events, culminating in a major exhibition in summer 2022.
The fashion industry currently lacks a resource of vital Black British contributions from a cultural, design and socio-political perspective, having erased many important historical narratives. The cost of neglecting these stories is detrimental to the industry as a whole. Going forward, design knowledge and history must be taught with an appreciation and awareness of the cultural contributions of all races to the fabric of British society. The project is inspired by Joe Casely-Hayford who paved the way for Black designers working in the UK today and altered the course of this trajectory. This project honours the powerful legacy that he left behind him.
The overall purpose of the project is to reference, educate and present many untold Black cultural narratives and design contributions that are pivotal foundations within society. The project will address shortcomings in academic provisions and practice at Secondary, Further Education and Higher Education level by charting the rise and impact of ‘UK Black Style Culture’. A key long-term objective of the project is to create the first ‘Black Fashion & Culture’ undergraduate education programme in the UK – with the opportunity to export globally. This specialism will document the History of Black Fashion & Culture as well as offer a provision to train and educate future fashion practitioners. Additionally, the project aims to amplify race narratives in fashion education by working in collaboration with i-D towards a dedicated library of Black fashion literature at Central Saint Martins, Joe Casely-Hayford’s alma mater (1975–77).
Find out more about The Missing Thread and the Institute of Positive Fashion.
About British Fashion Council & Talent ID
The British Fashion Council (BFC) was set up in 1983 to promote British fashion internationally and co-ordinate this promotion through fashion weeks, exhibitions and showcasing events. The BFC supports designers beginning at college level and extending to talent identification, business support and showcasing schemes. The BFC promotes British fashion and its influential role at home and abroad, helping British designer businesses develop their profiles and business globally. The BFC Foundation (Registered Charity Number: 11852152) was created for charitable purposes and grant giving; attracting, developing, and retaining talent through education and business mentoring. The BFC Colleges Council offers support to students through BA and MA scholarships and links with industry through design competitions and Graduate Preview Day. Through grant-giving and business mentoring the BFC support designers through four talent ID and business support schemes: BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund, BFC/GQ Designer Menswear Fund, NEWGEN which includes womenswear, menswear, and accessories, and the BFC Fashion Trust. For 2020 all initiatives were merged into the BFC Foundation Fashion Fund for the COVID crisis, supporting designers in need. The BFC showcasing initiatives and events include London Fashion Week, LONDON show ROOMS and the annual celebration of creativity and innovation in the fashion industry: The Fashion Awards.
About the D&I Steering Committee
The D&I Steering Committee is made up of industry and BFC representatives including:
Andrew Ibi, Designer/Artist/Educator; Barbara Kennedy-Brown, Founder, The Fashion Minority Alliance; Burberry; British Fashion Council; Chinazo Ufodiama, Brand & Communications Consultant; Dal Choda, Editor & Writer; Daniel Comrie, Senior Creative Agent, Elite; Daniel Peters, Founder, The Fashion Minority; Jaye Thompson, Senior Director Global PR, Tiffany & Co.; June Sarpong, Director of Creative Diversity, BBC; Karen Binns, Stylist; Kenya Hunt, Fashion Director, Grazia; Lynda Petherick, Head of Retail, Accenture; Nina Goswami, Creative Diversity Lead, BBC; Osman Yousefzada, Creative Director, Osman London; Priya Ahluwalia, Creative Director, Ahluwalia; Sheena Sauvaire, Chief Marketing Officer, Net-A-Porter; Sinead Burke, Activist; Toni-Blaze Ibekwe, Editor in Chief, Wonderland; Zadrian Smith, International Fashion Director
To express interest in joining the Committee please contact the British Fashion Council.
Apply to Join Institute of Positive Fashion