A new petition has been signed by 250 black professionals calling for the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) to amend its recently-announced anti-racism initiatives, Business of Fashion reports. The petition is being referred to as The Kelly Initiative, named after Patrick Kelly, the black fashion designer who became the first American admitted to the Chambre Syndicale du Prêt-à-Porter in 1988.
Among those who signed The Kelly Initiative, organized by editor Jason Campbell, creative director Henrietta Gallina, and writer Kibwe Chase-Marshall, are designers Edward Buchanan, Martine Rose, and Victor Glemaud; fashion directors Gabriella Karefa-Johnson of Garage, Carlos Nazario of i-D, Tiffany Reid of Bustle Digital Group, and Corey Stokes of Highsnobiety; stylist Jason Bolden; Cosmopolitan beauty director Julee Wilson; stylist Shiona Turini; and Vogue Fashion News Director Chioma Nnadi. Notably absent are CFDA board members Virgil Abloh and Kerby Jean-Raymond, among others.
According to the group, the CFDA has “allowed exploitative cultures of prejudice, tokenism, and employment discrimination to thrive, unbridled by the sort of watchdog intervention expected of an industry umbrella organization,” while fashion as a whole has prioritized “optics over the authentic pursuit of equity.” The petition was created as many feel the CFDA's recent anti-racism efforts have fallen short during a time when fashion's top positions are predominantly occupied by white individuals.
The Kelly Initiative signees are imploring the CFDA to issue a census on the racial breakdown of employees within the fashion industry, provide manager bias-mitigation training, and have its members create more hiring opportunities for black professionals. Following the industry-wide census, The Kelly Initiative asks that the CFDA publish the survey annually.
For more on The Kelly Initiative, issued in response to the CFDA's June 4 letter by Chairman Tom Ford and President Steven Kolb detailing the council's initiatives addressing systematic racism in the fashion industry, visit Business of Fashion.