An inside look at the vicious cycle that fuels the fashion industry, where rich white people determine beauty standards and who gets access in the first place

An inside look at the vicious cycle that fuels the fashion industry, where rich white people determine beauty standards and who gets access in the first place
  • A recent uptick in calls for social justice over the past month has reached the fashion industry, with employees of several brands coming forward with allegations of racist behavior and toxic workplace environments.
  • Accusations of marginalization aren’t new in the image-obsessed industry, but the combination of a pandemic, changing consumer expectations, and the Black Lives Matter movement has some experts saying this could be the tipping point.
  • Experts told Business Insider that the corporatization of the fashion industry has made decision-makers focus on what they see as the most valuable customers: middle-class white women and teens with extra spending money.
  • Through this white gaze, fashion aspirations center on an idealized version of young, thin, white, feminine, and able-bodied beauty.
  • But younger customers, who are more sensitive to diversity and inclusion and tolerant of political messaging from brands, are demanding change using their money and social-media power.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

On June 1, L’Oréal Paris posted on Instagram a black square with white text that read, “Speaking out is worth it.” The brand, like countless others, expressed solidarity with the Black community amid widespread protests calling for police reform in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

But not everyone was convinced companies would back up diversity and inclusion efforts with systemic change.

In particular, L’Oréal Paris came under scrutiny for its post because of its treatment of the British model and activist Munroe Bergdorf in 2017, when the brand canceled her campaign after she spoke out against racism. “I said just yesterday that it would only be a matter of time before RACIST AF brands saw a window of PR opportunity to jump on the bandwagon,” Bergdorf wrote on Instagram.

That bandwagon Bergdorf was referring to is the Black Lives Matter movement, which many fashion brands and media outlets have hopped on with social-media posts. Now they are weathering a storm after what employees at brands like Reformation, Anthropologie, Refinery29, and Vogue describe as years of toxic company culture.

Munroe Bergdorf

Munroe Bergdorf called out the beauty brand L’Oréal Paris.

Gareth Cattermole/GAY TIMES/Getty


Since the beginning of June, the fashion world has been whirling with allegations of racial discrimination.

Anthropologie was accused on Instagram of racially profiling Black shoppers.

Former Refinery29 beauty writer Khalea Underwood wrote for Business Insider that she wasn’t given the same opportunities as white reporters, making her believe she was “merely a diversity hire.” The site’s cofounder and editor in chief, Christene Barberich, resigned.

Leandra Medine, the founder of the fashion website Man Repeller, stepped back after readers commented that the site was exclusive and lacked diversity. 

Current and former employees at fashion brand Reformation told Business Insider they experienced microaggressions and racist behavior because of a culture driven by CEO and founder Yael Aflalo, who resigned in June.

There was even speculation that the legendary Vogue editor and Condé Nast executive Anna Wintour would resign, according to Business of Fashion. One of her direct reports, Bon Appétit Editor In Chief Adam Rapoport, resigned after employees alleged a “toxic” workplace culture of microaggressions and exclusion.

Business Insider pored over reports of these allegations and spoke with fashion historians and critics to learn why systemic racism seems to run so rampant in the industry. What we found is that an obsession with an idealized version of young, thin, white, feminine, and able-bodied beauty has long facilitated a culture of marginalization that affects employees, models, and consumers alike.

Discrimination goes unchecked at every level, according to insider reports that have surfaced in the last month. Employees are afraid to go against values that have been normalized for decades, for fear of losing access or opportunity in an exclusive industry. Brands stay silent so as not to seem political or alienate customers, while consumers buy into cyclical trends appropriating cultures that are rarely celebrated by the industry. 

But a younger generation of customers might be ready to hold brands’ feet to the fire, amid the coronavirus pandemic, increased scrutiny on systemic racism, and changing consumer values. 

A white-dominated industry creates certain ideals of beauty

Vogue’s March 2017 cover featured seven models. Though the group was ethnically diverse and featured the plus-size model Ashley Graham, the models all shared a look: dark brows, high cheekbones, long legs, and relatively light skin. 

What was widely criticized as an inadequate attempt at inclusivity mirrors the lack of diversity throughout fashion, from runway to boardroom. With the industry’s obsession with a certain flavor of attractiveness, only 17% of the models walking major runways during fashion week in spring 2015 were nonwhite, according to The Fashion Spot. Less than 4% of the Council of Fashion Designers of America members are Black, according to Fast Company, and Black designers are in charge at only two leading European fashion houses. Only three major fashion magazines are helmed by Black editors. Instagram is ruled by a single face.

The industry, by catering to the vanity of the historically white majority, perpetuates a vision of whom its customers desire to be. This facilitates an aspirational hierarchy of beau

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Saints’ Cameron Jordan Doesn’t Think LeBron Could Go over the Middle as NFL TE

Saints’ Cameron Jordan Doesn’t Think LeBron Could Go over the Middle as NFL TE
Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Gardner Minshew, lower left, is sacked by New Orleans Saints defensive end Cameron Jordan, center, as Jaguars offensive tackle Jawaan Taylor, right, tries to slow Jordan down during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 13, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack)

Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

First, it was former Dallas Cowboys linebacker DeMarcus Ware pouring cold water on LeBron JamesNFL dreams, and now, New Orleans Saints star Cameron Jordan has offered his own view on the NBA superstar’s football potential.

James’ recent admission on UNINTERRUPTED that he started training his body to play football as the 2011 NBA lockout dragged on has led to a number of NFL personalities explaining why the NBA legend wouldn’t cut it as a tight end. 

While speaking to Colin Cowherd on Thursday, Jordan laughed at the idea of James trying to catch a pass over the middle of the field. 

“I’ve got four guys that are going to take out the body you care so much about,” Jordan said. “I don’t know if you’ve been banged up on the basketball court like you’re going to get banged up in 16 games of football.”

On Wednesday, Ware also laughed at the idea of James maintaining his elite level in the NFL but didn’t rule out the possibility that he could a

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Vogel warns against stagnation after close victory

Vogel warns against stagnation after close victory

ATLANTA — The Los Angeles Lakers kept up their winning ways Sunday, downing the Atlanta Hawks 101-96 to extend their road victory streak to 14 and improve their overall record to 24-3. But the night left Lakers coach Frank Vogel pointing to potential cracks in the foundation.

“We didn’t play a great game tonight,” Vogel said after his team coughed up a season-high 22 turnovers and shot just 5-for-31 on 3-pointers. “If we play that in the next two games, the way we did tonight, we’ll leave with a loss. It doesn’t matter whether we win or lose, we want to have a growth mindset.”

The win kept L.A. tied with the Milwaukee Bucks for the league’s best mark, and one of those two games Vogel warned about is a date with the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo, in Milwaukee on Thursday. But first comes a showdown with an Indiana Pacers team that is 18-9 (11-3 at home) at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Tuesday.

“I think after the game a lot of us (were) upset at how we came out and started the game, we allowed the Hawks to run the score up tonight,” Dwight Howard said, alluding to how Atlanta twice cut an eight-point, fourth-quarter lead for L.A. down to a one-possession game. “So we know we have to do better but we understand

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Hong Kong protesters trample, burn LeBron James jersey: ‘People are angry’ – USA TODAY

Hong Kong protesters trample, burn LeBron James jersey: ‘People are angry’ – USA TODAY

AP
Published 9:52 a.m. ET Oct. 15, 2019 | Updated 4:55 p.m. ET Oct. 15, 2019



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SportsPulse: LeBron James had some critical words for Daryl Morey when he addressed the media on Monday night, calling the Rockets GM ‘ misinformed’.
USA TODAY

HONG KONG – When the ball smashed into a photo of LeBron James‘ face stuck above the hoop and dropped into the basket, the Hong Kong protesters cheered.

They also trampled on jerseys bearing his name and gathered in a semicircle to watch one burn.

James’ standing among basketball fans in Hong Kong took a hit because of comments the NBA star made about free speech. Fans gathered on courts amid Hong Kong’s high-rise buildings Tuesday to vent their anger.

The player for the Los Angeles Lakers touched a nerve among protesters for suggesting that free speech can have negative consequences. They have been protesting for months in defense of the same freedom that James said can carry “a lot of negative.”

Opinion: LeBron James undermines values he’s espoused in most disgraceful moment of career

‘Freedom is not free’: Celtics’ Enes Kanter responds to LeBron James’ China, Daryl Morey comments

The protesters chanted support for Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey, something of a hero among demonstrators in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory for having tweeted in support of their struggle, infuriating authorities in China.

What the crowd of approximately 200 people chanted about James wasn’t printable.

“People are angry,” said James Lo, a web designer who runs a Hong Kong basketball fan page on Facebook. He said he’s already received a video from a protester that showed him burning a No. 23 jersey bearing James’ name.

He expects more, given the backlash from protesters who’ve been regularly hitting the streets of Hong Kong and battling police because of concerns that the international business hub is slowly losing its freedoms, which are unique in China.

“Students, they come out like every weekend. They’ve got tear-gassed and then they got gunshot, like every weekend. Police beating students and

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Sasse slams LeBron James: ‘You’re parroting communist propaganda’ – Washington Examiner

Sen. Ben Sasse tore into LeBron James after the NBA superstar went after Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey for defending Hong Kong freedom protests.

“@KingJames — you’re parroting communist propaganda. China is running torture camps and you know it,” the Nebraska Republican said Monday night on Twitter.

Earlier, James told reporters that Morey was not educated about the Hong Kong freedom protests and that freedom of speech could have negative ramifications.

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Anthony Davis introduced by the Los Angeles Lakers | NBA – ESPN

Anthony Davis introduced by the Los Angeles Lakers | NBA – ESPN

The Los Angeles Lakers introduce Anthony Davis in a press conference. Davis talks about how great it will be to play with LeBron James, who made an appearance at the press conference. Davis also talks about how he found out about the trade and having to wear No. 3 instead of No. 23. Davis claims he wants no part of load management and is looking to play as many games as possible this season.
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Watch Bronny James Replicate LeBron’s Legendary Block at LA Memorial Day Classic

Watch Bronny James Replicate LeBron’s Legendary Block at LA Memorial Day Classic
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 28: LeBron James Jr. shoots around after a game between the LA Clippers and the Los Angeles Lakers on December 28, 2018 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Adam Pantozzi/Getty Images

Bronny James and the North Coast Blue Chips once again rolled to victory at the LA Classic Tournament, winning 63-43 in their second game of the event, according to Slam

Bronny sent social media into a frenzy when he replicated his dad’s legendary block from Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals. The sequence was eerily similar to when LeBron James swatted Andre Iguodala’s shot attempt off the glass.

LeBron had a front-row seat to see his son continue to strengthen his on-court reputation.

Bronny won’t hit the college ranks until 2023, but Kentucky, Duke, Kansas, North Carolina

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