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.