There has been a lot of press this week surrounding clothing brands and their lack of diversity to flat out racist imagery. One of the stories is of online store Revolve. They often send a group of influencers on trips so they can blog and share content from their adventures. They are currently in Thailand with a group of influencers, the majority are white, some are Asian, and they are all straight-sized. As of me writing this post, in the last 120 images, Revolve has posted on their Instagram account, only two of the photos feature a black woman. TWO. Black and brown faces are increasingly forgotten in marketing for clothing companies. But, H&M has a little black boy on their European website! Oh wait, he’s wearing a sweatshirt that says “Coolest Monkey In The Jungle”… I feel like I shouldn’t have to explain the long, horrible history of comparing black people to animals and especially monkeys.
It’s really hard to understand how stuff like this is still happening. How no one at Revolve noticed that there were no black and brown women on their trip. How did no one think the production of this sweatshirt could offend a whole section of the earth down to putting it on a young, black child during a photoshoot? Brands need to do better. 2018 is not even being two weeks old yet and we have a handful of PR disasters regarding race. We have this Seth Godin quote on our home page “A brand is the set of expectations, memories, stories and relationships that, taken together, account for a consumer’s decision to choose one product or service over another.” Businesses forget that all experiences with their company become part of the brand. Urban Outfitters is known for having racist imagery on their clothing. It’s become part of their narrative. Now some people love to say that all news is good news. It gets people talking about you. Yes, that is true but maybe the ethical part of me wants people to know my brand as positive and uplifting, rather than negative just for the sake of press.
Brands have a responsibility to be inclusive. Ignorance doesn’t fly anymore. From hiring within the company to marketing to the public, the room needs to be filled with all types of people. Clothing and beauty brands have notoriously only featured one type of person in marketing but expect everyone to buy their product. Our money is good enough for you to take but we're not good enough to be seen in advertisment. How can I as a black woman buy clothing when I don’t see myself represented anywhere? Let’s add on to the fact that I am plus sized. Stores don’t carry clothing that fit my body. Makeup counters don’t have shades that match me. Am I supposed to just stay at home in front of my laptop, searching for brands that want to sell products to a person like me? I hope brands take this as a lesson to not just avoid disasters like this, but to actually educate themselves and actively have diverse voices in the room.