A by-the-numbers look at the proportion of black people in the industry’s ranks. Fashion an industry keen to promote its own diversity, often in a self-congratulatory way is also taking a fresh look at just how welcoming it is to the black community and how it can do better.
But for all of those efforts over many years, there continues to be a real divide at the very top of the corporate org chart, where the salaries are big and the faces remain mostly those of white men. There are black chief executive officers from A (Virgil Abloh) to Z (Jide Zeitlin), but very few in between.
In the broader workforce, statistics from last year show black or African-American representation is higher than average in some categories, such as shoe stores and department stores, but below average in other areas, including jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores. While parts of the country are starting to reopen now, many stores are still closed to slow the spread of COVID-19 and some will never reopen.
Still, even at retail, the vast majority of those black workers are sales staff, rather than at the executive level.
Here, some points of reference on fashion’s racial divide.
Representation of black or African-Americans in key sectors of the fashion business.
Black or African-American
Department stores and discount stores
Jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores
Apparel, piece goods, notions wholesalers
Nail salons and other personal-care services
Textiles, apparel, and leather manufacturing