This Designer’s Powerful Letter Reminds Us That the Fashion Industry Must Do Better to Support Women of Color

October 29, 2020 at 04:09PM

Carly Cushnie is closing her namesake label after 12 years due to business struggles during the coronavirus pandemic. Cushnie originally partnered with Michelle Ochs on the brand when it was called Cushnie et Ochs, but the duo parted ways in 2018. Cushnie’s DNA always remained strong – it was a label we looked to (and many celebrities tapped) for dress wear and events. Unfortunately, as Carly Cushnie noted to Vogue, “I make clothes for people to go out and enjoy their lives in. I don’t make loungewear. I didn’t have the ability to just suddenly switch and entirely change what my brand does. That takes a great expense, to change the direction of a brand. Whether it’s the category or the price point, it’s a big undertaking and I wasn’t able to do it.”

Cushnie’s powerful letter to the fashion community has sparked a more important conversation surrounding the support of the industry, which was lacking from the start. “One of the great ironies of the fashion industry is that while it caters to and profits from women, it has never felt like an industry that supports them. This is especially true for women of color,” she writes. Though she mentions her accomplishments – she has had the honor of dressing the likes of Michelle Obama and Beyoncé, was appointed a board member of the CFDA, and was one of the first Black female designers to collab with Target – and they are hugely indicative of her creativity and her talent, she is just one person fighting a bigger battle for more representation in her sphere.

“It would have been better had there been more support for female designers and women of color in the industry.”

“While added support during this time has been nice, it would have been better had there been more support for female designers and women of color in the industry before everyone started to support Black-owned brands so visibly over the last few months,” Cushnie told Vogue, while touching on the surge in brand recognition she has experienced with the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement.

Cushnie signed off her message to the fashion industry with a positive note: “The desire to set an example for young women of color has always been a driving force in my career, and I am confident and hopeful that the distance I have traveled will help to pave the way for the next generation of diverse talent. As one of the few Black female designers to achieve this level of success, I am both humbled and empowered by the undeniable mark that I have made.

We have no doubt that Cushnie herself will go on to see more success in the industry, wherever her path takes her, but we will certainly miss her looks on the runway and the red carpet. She is one of the only designers, in my opinion, who has managed to successfully meet sex appeal with smooth sophistication. Scroll down to see a few of our favorite Cushnie looks in recent history, because there is no doubt they should be celebrated, appreciated, and remembered.

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Author Sarah Wasilak | Popsugar
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