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What CFDA’s New Black Advisory Board Will Do to Diversify Fashion

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has announced a new initiative to create pathways for Black designers and industry professionals to excel.

On Tuesday, the organization announced the creation of a separately run Black advisory board, which will lead CFDA’s efforts in creating a more diverse, inclusive and equitable fashion industry.

Spurred by recently appointed CFDA president CaSandra Diggs, who took the helm in August, the group will be led by executive board vice chairwoman and designer Tracy Reese. Other board members will include Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Samira Nasr, Netflix’s new chief marketing officer Bozoma Saint John, Fashion Tech Connects co-founder Stacie Henderson, and Martin Cooper, co-founder of The Punctilious Mr. P’s Place Cards Company.

According to a statement from the CFDA, former Vogue writer and fashion PR executive Bonnie Morrison will join the group in a newly minted strategy role, with the aim of executing initiatives to create opportunities for Black fashion professionals and artists. She will champion programs like a CFDA task force and a talent placement program.

“We are bringing together an impressive group of esteemed industry colleagues to collectively help us build a framework for increased diversity, equity, and inclusion in fashion,” Diggs said. The new president joined the CFDA in 2001, and recently served as its chief administrative and financial officer. Her appointment last month came with a commitment to champion, educate and support the group’s members, along with the fashion industry at large.

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The creation of the new board—along with Diggs’ assumption of the role of president—come on the heels of a CFDA board of directors meeting in June where members discussed avenues for combating racial inequity in the industry.

“In June, we outlined specific initiatives with the goal of bringing an end to racial injustice in the fashion industry,” said board chairman  Tom Ford. “The organization has put in place a structure to execute this strategy and we are firmly committed to creating systematic change in our industry that will empower the critical voices that need to be heard.”

CFDA CEO Steve Kolb hailed the implementation of a new, Black advisory board as instrumental to the council’s efforts to transform the existing industry landscape. “These fundamental changes to the organization allow us to bring important perspectives to the fashion industry,” he said.

On Sept. 14-16, the sector will host its most unusual New York Fashion Week to date. With in-person events drastically limited, CFDA will help the sector’s designers virtually launch their latest collections through a new platform called Runway 360.

The virtual hub will act as a central location for press interactions, collection viewing and show imagery. Designers will also have the option to host live-streamed press conferences utilizing augmented and virtual reality. Consumers will be able to take part in the events, too, and even purchase runway looks through an e-commerce page, fostering the movement toward “see now, buy now.”