by MIKE CHAIKEN
After the death of George Floyd, and as protests began in cities and towns across the nation to fight systemic racism in America, many fashion houses and retailers took to their websites and social media accounts to pronounce their support for the Black community.
However, several Black representatives within the intimates industry said these companies have to ask themselves the question: Was the stance genuine or was it just a chance to bring recognition to their brand?
Curvexpo, a company that mounts trade shows for the lingerie and intimates industries, recently hosted a webinar “Lingerie Shopping in the Era of Black Lives Matter.” The webinar was hosted by Cora Harrington of The Lingerie Addict and the panel was Rosa Viola Harris of retail store Vy’s Closet, Amber Tolliver of lingerie brand Liberte, LaTimberly Johnson of the brand Loulette Lingerie, Wen of the Comics Girls Need Bras and industry veteran Tina Wilson of the Underfashion Club.
Four Minneapolis officers were charged in connection with Floyd’s death on Memorial Day. The incident was captured on video by bystanders, who begged police to stop hurting the man. Floyd’s death sparked international protests and drew new attention to the treatment of blacks in the U.S. by police and the criminal justice system.
Wilson said if your brand wasn’t already on board with the move toward promoting diversity before the death of Floyd, and you began to post black squares on social media in support of Black Lives Matter just to get your brand before the public, the move is hypocritical and inauthentic
Black Lives Matter is about more than sifting through an Instagram feed and highlighting the one black model you used “way back when”, said Tolliver.
“It’s a dramatic change that has happened and (the support) just can’t be because it’s trendy,” said Tolliver. “We are not a trend. Our skin color presents who we are and what we look like. It needs to go far beyond catching the Instagram movement and being able to say you checked off a box (of social awareness) because you posted a black square.”
Instead of just posting black squares on social media signifying your support for Black Lives Matter, Wilson said, “If your heart is in it (promoting diversity), you can mentor people; you can hire people; you can see people for who they really are instead of who you think they are.”
“That’s a start,” said Wilson, “and that hasn’t really happened for a very long time.”
“You have to systematically change the way you do business,” said Tolliver.
Businesses have to do more than pick the “ambiguous model with straight hair (to promote their brands),” said Tolliver. Fashion businesses should cast dark women with afro, dark-skinned women who happen to be bald or light skin women who have red hair.
“You have to create diversity through representation,” said Tolliver.
“If you seem to only use white models, you have to ask yourself why and make better choices in the future, said Tolliver.
“I challenge everybody to level up and do better,” said Tolliver, “because there’s not a lack of availability (of talent), it’s a choice.”
“I’m excited (the change of attitude is) going on now. I’m very happy,” said Wilson. “I hope it lasts. Who knows? But if we can check each other and call out each other out in a go
“This movement is about evening out the playing field so if we do succeed or fail, it’s on our own merits,” said Wilson.
Johnson also noted brands should not worry about appearing political by supporting Black Lives Matter. She said the Floyd case is about being human.
“We (Blacks) don’t deserve to be shot and killed,” said Johnson.
“This whole movement is due to murder,” said Johnson. “That’s always wrong.”
“What’s happened has cut every black person,” said Rosa. “Can you stand up for what is wrong and say what happened was wrong.” If the stance makes one uncomfortable, said Rosa, one must ask why.