Beyond Tokenism: Halima Aden and Tommy Hilfiger Discuss Diversity in Fashion Industry
Halima Aden is a Somali-American model and activist. She gained prominence in the fashion industry for being the first hijab-wearing model to appear on the cover of major magazines like Vogue, Allure, and British Vogue. Aden was born in a refugee camp in Kenya and moved to the United States when she was six years old. She became interested in modelling after competing in a beauty pageant in her home state of Minnesota.
Tommy Hilfiger, on the other hand, is an American fashion designer who founded the Tommy Hilfiger Corporation in 1985. His brand is known for its preppy, classic American style and has become one of the most recognized fashion brands in the world. The company produces clothing, accessories, fragrances, and home furnishings. Hilfiger has collaborated with many celebrities and designers, including Gigi Hadid, Zendaya, and Lewis Hamilton. The brand is also known for its philanthropic work, supporting various causes such as autism, poverty, and health initiatives.
The importance of diversity in the fashion industry
The fashion industry is a global industry that has a significant impact on the economy, society, and culture. It is a highly competitive and constantly evolving industry, and one of the key factors that can drive innovation and creativity is diversity. Diversity in the fashion industry is essential for several reasons, including:
- Representation: The fashion industry should be representative of the diverse population it serves. This means featuring models of different ethnicities, body types, and ages to showcase that fashion is for everyone, not just a select few. When people see models who look like them, they feel seen and validated, which can lead to increased self-esteem and confidence.
- Innovation: A diverse group of people brings different perspectives and experiences to the table, which can lead to innovative ideas and designs. For example, a designer from a different culture or background may bring new fabrics or techniques to the fashion industry that were previously unknown or underutilized.
- Business success: The fashion industry is a global business, and companies that embrace diversity can tap into new markets and customers. By having a diverse team of employees, companies can better understand the needs and desires of different communities and create products that resonate with them.
- Social responsibility: The fashion industry has a responsibility to promote positive social values and to challenge negative stereotypes. By showcasing diverse models and designs, the industry can challenge outdated beauty standards and promote a more inclusive society.
Diversity is crucial for the success and growth of the fashion industry. By embracing diversity, companies can create products and campaigns that are more inclusive, innovative, and socially responsible.
Personal experiences and challenges faced by Halima and Tommy
Halima Aden and Tommy Hilfiger are two figures in the fashion industry who have faced personal experiences and challenges related to diversity.
Halima Aden is a Somali American model who made history as the first model to wear a hijab and burkini in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant in 2016. She has since become a prominent figure in the fashion industry and an advocate for diversity and inclusivity.
One of the challenges that Halima has faced is the lack of understanding and acceptance of her hijab and modest clothing in the industry. She has spoken out about feeling pressure to compromise her religious beliefs in order to succeed in the industry, including being asked to remove her hijab for a photoshoot. However, Halima has remained true to herself and has used her platform to promote diversity and representation in the industry.
Tommy Hilfiger is an American fashion designer who has been a leader in the industry for over 30 years. He has faced criticism and backlash for lack of diversity in his brand, including comments he made in the 90s about not designing for plus-size or disabled people.
However, Tommy Hilfiger has since made efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity in his brand. He has collaborated with diverse models and designers, including Halima Aden, who became the first hijab-wearing model to walk in a Tommy Hilfiger fashion show in 2019. Tommy has also launched a range of adaptive clothing for people with disabilities, showcasing his commitment to creating fashion for everyone.
Both Halima Aden and Tommy Hilfiger have faced challenges related to diversity in the fashion industry. While Halima has faced pressure to compromise her religious beliefs, Tommy has faced criticism for lack of diversity in his brand. However, both have used their experiences to promote diversity and inclusivity in the industry, making positive strides towards a more representative and inclusive fashion world.
How tokenism limits progress in the industry
Tokenism is the practice of making only a symbolic effort towards diversity and inclusivity by including only a small number of individuals from underrepresented groups, without any real effort towards structural change or inclusion. Tokenism is a problem in many industries, including the fashion industry, as it limits progress towards true diversity and inclusivity.
One of the main ways in which tokenism limits progress in the fashion industry is by creating the illusion of diversity without actually addressing the underlying issues. For example, a brand may feature one or two models from underrepresented groups in their campaigns or runway shows, but if the rest of their models, designers, and employees are not diverse, then they are not truly promoting diversity.
Tokenism also perpetuates the idea that only a select few individuals from underrepresented groups are “good enough” or “worthy” of being included in the industry. This can create a sense of competition among individuals from underrepresented groups, leading to a lack of collaboration and support.
Additionally, tokenism can lead to the exploitation of individuals from underrepresented groups. For example, a brand may hire a model from an underrepresented group to appear in their campaign solely for the purpose of appearing diverse and appealing to a wider audience, without actually making any effort to create a more inclusive environment or address systemic issues within the industry.
Tokenism limits progress in the fashion industry by creating an illusion of diversity, perpetuating exclusivity, and exploiting individuals from underrepresented groups. True progress towards diversity and inclusivity requires ongoing effort towards structural change and inclusion, rather than just a symbolic gesture.
Ideas for creating a truly inclusive global fashion industry
Creating a truly inclusive global fashion industry requires a commitment to ongoing effort and structural change. Here are some ideas for promoting diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry:
1. Diverse representation: Brands should aim to showcase models and designers of diverse ethnicities, body types, ages, genders, and abilities to create a more representative industry. Brands should also make efforts to hire employees from diverse backgrounds to create a more inclusive workplace.
2. Collaboration and support: The industry should encourage collaboration and support among individuals and groups from underrepresented communities to create a more inclusive and supportive environment. Brands could create mentorship programs or networking events to promote collaboration and support among individuals from underrepresented communities.
3. Education and awareness: Brands should educate themselves and their employees about different cultures and communities to promote understanding and awareness. This could involve providing cultural sensitivity training or partnering with organizations that promote diversity and inclusivity.
4. Sustainable and ethical practices: The fashion industry should prioritize sustainable and ethical practices to promote social and environmental responsibility. This includes fair labor practices, minimizing waste, and using sustainable materials.
5. Accessibility: The industry should make efforts to be more accessible to people of all abilities. This could include creating adaptive clothing lines or designing stores and websites that are accessible to people with disabilities.
6. Intersectionality: Brands should recognize and address the intersectionality of different forms of marginalization, such as race, gender, sexuality, and ability. This means making efforts to promote inclusion for individuals who face multiple forms of marginalization.
Creating a truly inclusive global fashion industry requires a commitment to ongoing effort and structural change. By prioritizing diversity, collaboration, education, sustainability, accessibility, and intersectionality, the industry can create a more representative, supportive, and responsible industry.
The role of young, diverse models in shaping the industry’s future
Young, diverse models play an essential role in shaping the fashion industry’s future. As the next generation of models, they bring fresh perspectives and diverse experiences that can challenge traditional industry standards and promote inclusivity.
One way in which young, diverse models can shape the industry’s future is by pushing for more diversity in casting and representation. By demanding representation that accurately reflects the diversity of society, young models can help break down existing barriers and stereotypes, and promote a more inclusive industry.
Young models can also use their platform to raise awareness of social and environmental issues, and promote sustainable and ethical practices in the industry. They can influence the industry’s priorities and practices, and encourage brands to take a more responsible and conscious approach to their operations.
Moreover, young, diverse models can inspire other young people from underrepresented communities to pursue careers in the industry. By seeing models who look like them, young people can feel empowered and motivated to pursue their passions and challenge existing norms and standards.
In summary, young, diverse models play a crucial role in shaping the future of the fashion industry. By promoting diversity and inclusivity, advocating for social and environmental responsibility, and inspiring others from underrepresented communities, they can drive the industry towards a more representative, responsible, and inclusive future.
Advice for aspiring models and fashion professionals from marginalized communities
For aspiring models and fashion professionals from marginalized communities, here are some pieces of advice to help you succeed in the industry:
1. Believe in yourself: The fashion industry can be challenging, and it’s essential to have confidence in yourself and your abilities. Remember that you are talented and unique, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
2. Build a support system: Surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you and your goals. This could include friends, family members, mentors, or fellow professionals from underrepresented communities.
3. Seek out opportunities: Be proactive in seeking out opportunities to build your portfolio and gain experience. Attend open calls, submit to modelling agencies, and network with industry professionals to get your foot in the door.
4. Educate yourself: Learn as much as you can about the industry and its history, including its past and present issues with diversity and inclusion. Stay informed about current events and trends, and seek out resources and education opportunities to help you grow as a professional.
5. Embrace your identity: Celebrate and embrace your unique identity and culture. Don’t try to conform to industry standards that don’t represent who you are, and use your platform to celebrate and promote diversity.
6. Take care of yourself: Modelling and fashion can be demanding industries, and it’s essential to take care of your physical and mental health. Prioritize self-care, get enough rest, and seek out professional support if needed.
Remember that the fashion industry needs diversity and representation from marginalized communities to truly thrive. By believing in yourself, building a support system, seeking out opportunities, educating yourself, embracing your identity, and taking care of yourself, you can succeed in the industry and help drive progress towards a more inclusive and representative future.
Examples of successful diversity and inclusion initiatives in fashion
There have been several successful diversity and inclusion initiatives in the fashion industry. Here are some examples:
1. Savage X Fenty: Rihanna’s lingerie brand, Savage X Fenty, has been praised for its diverse casting and inclusive approach. The brand’s runway shows feature models of all shapes, sizes, and ethnicities, including models with disabilities and pregnant models.
2. The Black in Fashion Council: Launched in 2020, the Black in Fashion Council is a collective of industry professionals who aim to promote diversity and inclusivity in fashion. The organization works with brands and individuals to create measurable benchmarks for diversity and inclusion, and provides resources and support for Black professionals in the industry.
3. Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive: Tommy Hilfiger launched its adaptive clothing line in 2018, which features clothing designed for people with disabilities. The line was developed in collaboration with adaptive athletes and advocates, and includes features such as adjustable waistbands and magnetic closures.
4. Chromat: Chromat, a swim and activewear brand, has been praised for its diverse casting and commitment to inclusivity. The brand has featured models of different sizes, shapes, and abilities in its runway shows, and has also created a line of adaptive swimwear.
5. Gucci Changemakers: Gucci Changemakers is a program launched by the luxury fashion brand to promote diversity and inclusivity. The program includes initiatives such as scholarships for underrepresented groups, a global fellowship program, and a mentorship program for young creatives.
Some of these initiatives demonstrate that there is progress being made towards creating a more inclusive and representative fashion industry. By prioritizing diversity and inclusion, these brands and organizations are setting a positive example and driving positive change in the industry.
The impact of representation in media and advertising on society as a whole
Representation in media and advertising plays a crucial role in shaping societal perceptions, attitudes, and values. The images and messages that we see in media and advertising influence how we see ourselves and others, and can have a significant impact on our beliefs, behaviours, and sense of self-worth.
When underrepresented communities are excluded or misrepresented in media and advertising, it can lead to harmful stereotypes and negative attitudes towards those communities. For example, when people of color are consistently portrayed as criminals or as less intelligent than white people, it can reinforce systemic racism and contribute to negative attitudes towards people of color.
On the other hand, when underrepresented communities are accurately and positively represented in media and advertising, it can promote acceptance, empathy, and inclusivity. When people see themselves reflected positively in media and advertising, it can help build a sense of pride and self-worth. When people see others who are different from themselves represented positively, it can foster understanding and empathy.
Moreover, representation in media and advertising can have a significant impact on young people. Children and teenagers who grow up seeing positive and diverse representations in media and advertising are more likely to develop positive attitudes towards themselves and others, and less likely to develop harmful stereotypes and biases.
The representation in media and advertising is essential for promoting inclusivity, breaking down stereotypes, and fostering understanding and empathy towards underrepresented communities. By prioritizing diversity and accurate representation, we can create a more equitable and just society for all.
Future prospects and goals for a more inclusive fashion industry
The future prospects for a more inclusive fashion industry are promising. As awareness and demands for diversity and inclusivity continue to grow, many fashion brands and organizations are making commitments and taking action to improve representation and accessibility within the industry. Here are some potential goals for a more inclusive fashion industry:
1. Greater diversity in leadership and decision-making roles: It is crucial to have diversity at all levels of the fashion industry, including in leadership positions. By ensuring that diverse voices are represented in decision-making processes, the industry can better understand and meet the needs of diverse communities.
2. More inclusive sizing and adaptive clothing options: The fashion industry needs to provide more inclusive sizing and adaptive clothing options that cater to the needs of all people, regardless of body size, ability, or gender.
3. Increased representation in marketing and advertising: Brands should prioritize representing underrepresented communities in their marketing and advertising campaigns, reflecting the diversity of their customers.
4. Inclusive hiring and promotion practices: The fashion industry should implement policies and practices that ensure diverse representation in hiring and promotion decisions. This can include blind hiring processes and promoting from within.
5. Collaborations with diverse designers and creatives: Fashion brands should collaborate with diverse designers and creatives, providing them with opportunities to showcase their work and bring unique perspectives to the industry.
Overall, a more inclusive fashion industry requires a collective effort from brands, organizations, consumers, and industry professionals. By setting goals and taking action towards greater diversity and inclusivity, the fashion industry can create a more equitable and representative future.