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      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. 

      How Can Brands Be Inclusive But Not Appropriate Cultures?

      How Can Brands Be Inclusive But Not Appropriate Cultures?

      How Big Retail Brands are Using Cultural Appropriation to Turn a Profit

      By Yashashree Samant 

      The fashion industry does more than manufacture and sell garments. To a degree it’s a mirror to the society that we live in or even the world we want to live in. So in the past when most fashion brands perpetrated a singular idea of style and beauty, it got more and more difficult for people whose looks didn’t meet that standard to find their place in the world. However, due to the increased “wokeness” of the last decade, changing ideas, and the events that conspired around us, the fashion industry understood that it needed to adapt, to make sure that they imbibed diversity in as many ways as possible. 

      In 2020 there was a huge resurgence in the conversation about inclusivity in fashion, as people identified rampant racial discrimination and underepresentation of minority cultures within the fashion industry. It also led to calling out brands for missing the mark on fashion inclusivity by simply appropriating cultures. Several fashion labels have often confused the idea of inclusivity with appropriation, turning years of deeply entrenched cultures into costumes for mass consumption. 

      Cultural appropriation is turning elements of an ethnic group, most often an underrepresented minority culture, into everyday products. Cultural appropriation doesn’t try to understand the context for these elements or respect the existing aspect when it’s practiced by the said minority, but celebrates it when larger groups adapt them.

      A great example is cornrows or braids which were considered draggy or uncool when traditionally worn by Black women, but when adapted by white fashion icons not only were they celebrated, they also were labelled as trendsetters. When done in fashion, appropriation makes a garment that was traditional into something that is trendy without acknowledging the roots. This supposedly trendy garment then sells for a high price that is usually pocketed by big brands while the culture that inspired it does not benefit in any way. 

      Can cultural appropriation be counted as fashion inclusivity? The answer is always no. Fashion inclusivity is to give different minority cultures a platform. Appropriation is to turn those very real cultures into a mere accessory to make the already rich, richer.

      So what can we do? 

      We can take the onus to find out more about the brands that we’re purchasing from. When we embrace a culture or a style we need to make sure that it is represented correctly and that there aren’t any negative stereotypes or caricatures attached with the garments. We can also ensure that the community or ethnicity has been properly compensated for the inspiration that the brands derive, and lastly, if the brand of our choice hasn’t followed through, then as a vigilant member of society it is our responsibility to call them out.

      But it doesn’t stop there. Fashion brands need to do better too. They need to make sure that they do their research on different styles, employ designers, C-suite executives, and models that mirror a society that promotes equality. They also need to make sure that they uplift a culture that inspires them, not just by adapting their style but also by helping those in need. 

      D.O.B believes in equality of access for all people, connecting you with purpose-driven smaller brands who offer product designs originating from and giving back to the cultures they represent. 

      It’s Time We Understood What the Body Positive Movement is Really About

      It’s Time We Understood What the Body Positive Movement is Really About

      Body Positive Movement is More Than a One-Size Fits All Approach

      By Curtis Harding

      For as long as we’ve had mass manufacturing and fast fashion, we’ve had to fight against ideas of beauty that have been standardized along with our clothing. While there has always been a market for plus-sized clothes—Lane Bryant began catering to the “stout” woman 100 years ago—too often they preferred to slim down bodies rather than embrace them. 

      It wasn’t until the ‘60s that the “fat acceptance” movement began, focusing on marginalized bodies from larger, disabled, Black and queer people. Over the next couple decades, more plus-sized brands like Avenue and Ashley Stewart stepped in. Plus-sized offerings slowly grew — but weren’t necessarily celebrated. That didn’t really happen until the rise of social media forced us to confront an onslaught of unrealistic notions of beauty, and the movement shifted from “plus-sized” to “body positive.” 

      It wasn’t enough just to make clothes for larger women anymore; it was time to challenge traditional ideas of beauty by celebrating and accentuating marginalized bodies. The body positive movement was finally going mainstream. But that comes with problems.

      Body Positive Movement Still a Work in Progress

      Lizzo has recently criticized the way the body positive movement has been adopted by every body—larger, skinny, medium. Yes, Lizzo enthusiastically agrees, everyone should feel good in and celebrate their bodies, but the movement has turned away from the people it was created to lift up. It’s shifted things right back to where they were before. I can understand the desire to apply body positivity to everyone. Body image issues are distressingly prevalent in the gay community. We’re all our own harshest critics. So yeah, it’s nice to hear affirmation that all our bodies are wonderful. 

      But Lizzo does have a point. She knows exactly where the movement began decades ago. It started with, as she says, “big women, big brown and Black women, queer women.” So turning the body positive movement into something for everyone is akin to saying All Lives Matter. It’s a way to reduce the uniqueness of individuals. It refuses to acknowledge our different challenges and mixes equality and equity up. Yes, we may all face body image problems – but not to the same degree or in the same way. 

      We need more brands like the ethical, sustainable, and brilliantly transparent Girlfriend Collective. They don’t just make clothing for all body types; they prominently feature and showcase them. They joyously celebrate plus-sized women, and plus-sized brown and Black women. 

      And we need more brands like Summersalt, which has taken great pains to get millions of measurements from women of all sizes. Rather than just upsizing clothing and saying “good enough,” they go out of their way to make sure plus-sized women have swimwear made for their bodies. 

      Maybe we aren’t Grammy-winning artists or trend-setting fashion houses, but we can still use our money to show the fashion world that we want brands to embrace all notions of beauty and uplift bodies that have for far too long been pushed to fringes. That is body positivity. 

      D.O.B and the Body Positive Movement

      D.O.B celebrates brands who truly understand the importance of inclusion and the meaning behind the body positive movement.  We will fight for a world of acceptance for all people, and continue to question definitions of inclusion.

       

      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.