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      Of, For and By the People

      Of, For and By the People

      Shaping Inclusion In Fashion

      By Mathura Hawley

      Diversity.  Belonging.  Inclusion.   These are words that were born from the blood, sweat and tears of movements, moments and cultural shifts of the last fifty years.  As Black Rights, the Women’s Movement, Sexual Liberation and Gay pride rose from the 1960’s through what is happening today, we have become more self-aware, more determined to include and be included and, thanks to social media and the digital world, better armed with the power to make change.  So, before corporate America hijacks these words and sells them back to us, how can we act on them, each of us, in a way that pushes us forward.

      The saying, from diversity advocate Verna Myers, goes:  “Diversity is being invited to the party; Inclusion is being asked to dance.”  Diversity has evolved in mainstream fashion, once being the way you covered your potential customer base and didn’t piss anyone off, to actually representing the colors of the cultures that often provide the inspiration for the product design. Now, the check-list nature of the term “diversity” isn’t enough.  At last, we are talking about “inclusion.”

      Inclusion goes deeper, and we should follow it.  Inclusion means that all people, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, have the right to be respected and appreciated as valuable members of their communities.  This goes far beyond color or socioeconomic conditions. This is about the right to work in safe conditions and for fair wages.  This is about being sure the product that you make doesn’t harm the environment where people work and live, or end up toxifying a dump near someone’s home.  This is about acknowledging the sizes and functional needs of all people, and rethinking innovation to include the marginalized.  This is about consciously questioning our preconceived notions of gender norms.  This is about discovering the individual whose story would otherwise never be told.  This is about recognizing that we are now a global connection of local communities, where everybody can be seen and heard.   

      This is about access.  

      Artisans and brands from small communities to the streets of our big cities often do not have the dollars to compete for your attention, or the ability to get their story out.  But they exist, and their numbers are growing.  They are often born from street culture, art and music, or the need to raise the conditions and spirit of their communities.  Many have a built-in purpose that directly gives back to the environment and the conditions of the people who make their product.  Yema is a brand whose founders have strong ties to their homelands of Kenya and Ethiopia, both in the authentic designs of their clothing and in the passion and commitment they have to give back.  SOKO is a woman-led, people-first ethical jewelry brand built to connect artisans in Kenya with the global market.  ONE432 is a clothing and footwear company that shares 50% of their actual net profits from each unit sold between their female artisans and children’s education in Pakistan. calinY gives street artists a platform for creativity. Vustra ensures its entire production process is ethically conscious of the environment and the conditions of its workers beyond its factories. These are all brands you will find within the D.O.B community.

      D.O.B was created with this purpose.  We will give you access to sustainable, inclusive and local brands you may have never heard of.  We will give those brands, their creative designs and their causes access to the D.O.B community, people like you who care about making informed and ethical choices when you shop.  Be part of the change.  Join us.

      Pride Month in 2021: Celebrating in a Time of Social Awakening

      Pride Month in 2021: Celebrating in a Time of Social Awakening

      The Ethos of Pride Month Must Not be Forgotten

      By Curtis Harding

      It’s Pride month across the country, which means it’s time to break out the rainbow flags, celebrate all things LGBTQ, and party like it’s going out of style. Right? Maybe — but there’s far more to Pride month just than that.

      When I first moved to the New York area, it took me years before I celebrated Pride month. I was fully out by then, but it just didn’t seem worth it. My boyfriend at the time had lived here his whole life. He decried the sanitized corporatization of Pride month and railed against seeing more bank floats than drag queens. He yearned for the wild celebrations from before LGBTQ folks became good for business. 

      He was, you see, grumbling about the corporate takeover of Pride month. It’s long been a favorite pastime among LGBTQ folks, but this year, we finally seem to be fed up with it. 

      We’ve all likely seen the term “rainbow washing” take off as folks call out companies who, for one month and only one month a year, declare themselves our allies and insert themselves into our Pride month celebrations. I’ve even noticed how a Forbes article from 2019 calling out corporations that donate heavily to anti-gay politicians, even as they slap a rainbow on their logo for the month of June, is suddenly being quoted and shared. That behavior is just not good enough anymore. 

      Last year, George Floyd’s murder just before Pride month galvanized people around the globe to fight for change. We spent June declaring that Black Lives Matter and the systemic brutality and oppression that we’d ignored for too long would not stand. It’s something we never should have forgotten, but sadly, many of us did. 

      Last Pride month, the phrase “The first Pride was a riot” (referring to the 1969 Stonewall Riots in New York) caught on as non-BIPOC LGBTQ folks seemed to finally understand on a large scale that the fight for rights, safety, and dignity is one that all marginalized people share. The LGBTQ community is as beautifully diverse as humanity, and there’s far more to it than just the experiences of cis white gay men. 

      Couple those realizations with the parade and party-cancelling pandemic, and what we were left with was a 2020 Pride month stripped back to its roots. While it’s long been a celebration of our identities in a world that’s tried to suppress them, at its core, Pride’s always been a protest. A protest to assert our dignity. A protest to lift up the oppressed. A protest to fight against the powerful.

      So it makes sense that we now seem to fully realize that the powerful includes corporations who say they’re our friends but give money to those who fight against us. And it includes companies who say they support us, but do nothing but put a rainbow on their web page once a year. If you want to declare yourself an ally, you need to fight for us, support us, support our businesses, and help lift all of us up all of the time. That is how you celebrate Pride.  

      D.O.B. will question and evolve traditional gender norms. We are committed to creating a community where everyone feels welcome without judgment, with the freedom to choose from designs and brands that represent you.

      In the Shadows of COVID: The LGBTQ Community and Others Hardest Hit

      In the Shadows of COVID: The LGBTQ Community and Others Hardest Hit

      The Deep Effects of Covid on the Gay Community

      By Mathura Hawley

      As if still pushing for our human rights and literally fighting for the lives of our trans family isn’t tough enough,  the LGBTQ community is one of the hardest hit by the effects of the COVID pandemic.  

      Many in the LGBTQ community have not worked for over a year.   Broadway, TV and movie productions were shut down, and there are many of us in front of and behind the cameras, from actors to set designers to writers and producers. We are your restaurant servers, your hotel concierges, your retail workers, your dog walkers and your fashion and hairstylists. Our work came to a halt with little backup and often complicated unemployment rules for service workers. 56% of the LGBTQ population has been out of work, more than 10% higher than the rest of the world. 

      Personally, many of us have grown up having been rejected or disconnected from our parent’s homes, and we often form our families from the friends in our lives. During Covid, we were unable to be with those friends, making isolation unbearable. 74% of LGBTQ people say they have suffered serious mental and emotional distress, vs. 49% who identify as straight. Social media was our lifeline, but like the rest of the world, we burned out on that, too. We are not the only ones. Other marginalized groups are in the same boat, and with the failure of small businesses they are also losing their local support systems.

      This past year we have seen the world changing in front of us, and we can identify with other marginalized groups who are fighting to be seen and heard.  From Black Lives Matter to Stop Asian Hate to Transgender Equality, there is a groundswell of focus on inclusion. Inclusion is the right for all people, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, to be respected and appreciated as valuable members of their communities. In our current climate, where it seems that everything is partisan or marketed to us by big business, what can we do to make sure everyone is included and treated fairly?

      Get involved. Join an online advocacy group. Vote. Talk with your neighbors, even the ones you may not agree with. Expose those around you to information, including who you are. 

      Challenge your own ways of thinking. Find your people. Shop local. And spend your dollar on companies that share your values.  

      D.O.B was created with this purpose. We provide access to sustainable, inclusive and local brands you may have never heard of.  We will give those brands, their creative designs and their causes, access to the D.O.B community, people like you who care about making informed and ethical choices when you shop.

      Cultivating Change: Fashion Brands That Emphasize Diversity & Inclusion

      Cultivating Change: Fashion Brands That Emphasize Diversity & Inclusion

      Diversity and Inclusion is More Than Just a Trend

      By Beth Hoad

      Fashion brands are slowly recognizing that developing diversity and inclusion is not just a trend, but a celebrated norm that is here to stay. This shift creates a new standard in fashion by understanding, accepting and breaking down stigmas around body types and identities. 

      With fashion being at the forefront of many conflicting ideologies, brands creating products with “anybody and everybody” in mind are continuously pushing boundaries within the fashion industry. Not only does this drive individuals to embrace change, but it also encourages fashion brands to do more and seek equality. This new narrative glorifies differences and fosters change throughout an industry.

      You might wonder how does a brand showcase diversity and inclusion? By highlighting people regardless of shape, size, ethnicity, age, gender and sexual orientation, brands are shifting new fashion norms. We’re not all one and the same, and it’s time that more fashion brands set higher values. Like Thirdlove, a company who encourage women to feel confident and comfortable in their own skin. From creating a wide range of sizes, to incorporating clothes that complement skin tones, inclusion and diversity in fashion has many faces. 

      As consumers, our choices can change the future from what was once a dated standardization of fashion. Inclusive brands such as ONE432 not only make non-confirming gender clothing, but work with artisans of different cultures and backgrounds to produce products. Brands are listening and aligning their values with consumers, and it’s paying off. GRANT BLVD is a brand which is much more than a clothing store. Not only are they producing sustainable clothing, but they are sharing a voice from women who have been left behind, incarcerated and ignored. Inclusion standards should always be evolving, and with great brands like these, I’m hopeful it will only increase. 

      I consider myself a body positive woman and at times I feel misrepresented by brands. If these thoughts cross my mind, I can’t even fathom the thoughts of individuals who are underrepresented and invisible to fashion brands every day. Diversity should be celebrated, respected and seen; Sotela focuses on “radical inclusivity”, by no longer defining their customers by a label. 

      Hold Brands Accountable

      Holding companies accountable as consumers is a great way to cultivate change and keep the pressure on brands who perpetuate dated beliefs. As you shop new brands, ask yourself, “Is this inclusive, does this reflect my thoughts, values and lifestyle?”. As brands continue to evolve, we should be asking more from them to create change and be proud of human differences. Everyone deserves to feel represented and valued, and at D.O.B we strive for everyone to be included. 

      D.O.B believes we should only spend our dollars on brands with a true commitment to a more diverse and inclusive culture, production process and end-product.  We will continue to question the norms and push for making real change.