WORDS BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI
Every June 19, the London-based shoe brand is committing to donating 19 percent of online sales to black-owned charities and checking its progress when it comes to diversity policies.
Sophia Webster took a week of social media before announcing her pledge. Image courtesy of @sophiawebster
The much needed conversations and attention around racism and the Black Lives Matter movement continue, across geographies and industries.
In fashion, many are calling recent developments the great reckoning: Employees are finally empowered to speak up about racism; brands are being called out for virtue signalling; and many powerful fashion bosses from Reformation’s Yael Alfalo to Vogue’s Anna Wintour are having to apologize for their failings or even step down from the their leadership roles.
Amidst the shock waves, a number of brands are also springing to action and making commitments, both big and small but important regardless, that can spearhead the change the fashion space is in such need of.
Footwear designer Sophia Webster is one of them: She is committing to using June 19th or Juneteenth – the American holiday recognizing the liberation of slaves in 1865 – as a marker to check on the company’s progress when it comes to diversity and inclusion.
The brand will also be donating 19 percent of its average e-commerce sales to black causes and charities, chosen alongside the company’s black employees.
We are mindful that this is not a day to promote sales, which is why we are using an annual average,” explained the brand.
To raise further awareness, Webster announced the initiative on Instagram, asking her audience to tag more brands that could join her pledge and amplify the cause.
She also acknowledged that there’s still “a lot to be done and this is only a small step.” At the beginning of this month, following the news of the tragic murder of George Floyd, the brand also paused social media posting for over a week in support of the anti-racism movement.
“I have had a lot of people thanking me for my solidarity, but condemning racist brutality does not warrant any thanks, especially when for white people there is so much more work to be done,” said Webster. “As a business we have taken time to introspect, listen and learn. We are examining how we can ensure that we take real, effective action not only to support our black team members but to ensure positive and measurable outcomes throughout the business and the ecosystem it exists in. Our goal is lasting change, not short-term lip-service.”