Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Luxury and Fashion: What’s Here and What’s Next?

August 2022

After almost three years of a global pandemic and political and racial tensions increasing around the globe, issues surrounding Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) have become more critical for luxury and fashion businesses to address, than ever before. The long list of new projects and recruits across the sector over the last year shows the needle is indeed moving but there’s still some way to go. This report addresses some of these issues and looks at what’s here now and what’s to come next

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Key Findings

COVID-19 pandemic brought a global reckoning across luxury and fashion

The COVID-19 pandemic brought a global reckoning across the luxury and fashion industry, as it highlighted the plight of textile workers around the globe, and the damaging impact of human activity on the planet. In addition, Black Lives Matter also shed light on police brutality and inequalities.

Fashion and luxury players aware that they need to step-up

Luxury and fashion consumers are becoming increasingly vocal about their political views on social media and fashion and luxury players are fully aware of the need to change to attract and retain talent, and meet consumer demand; all the more since they can be called out publicly owing to poor practice.

Fashion and luxury industry still slow to change

Many brands and companies across luxury and fashion have vowed to develop more inclusive hiring practices and to represent people of different backgrounds in their marketing campaigns. Influencers and industry surveys still report that many brands still fail in their diversity efforts because the fashion industry is still typically slow to change.

Communication and transparency are key

Effective communication is key. Internally, DEI should be embedded into the culture of a company via internal communication and employee training. Whilst externally transparency empowers consumers, it also builds a positive brand image as they value the company’s efforts and integrity. Together, this results in greater customer loyalty and commercial success, which is necessary to make the required investments towards one’s social and environmental goals.

Radical transparency called for to connect with “Planet” and “Profits”

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion sits under the “People” pillar in the wider sustainability framework which also encompasses “Planet” and “Profits”, and to be a success, all these steps will ultimately connect and be integrated into all aspects of the business lifecycle.

Introduction

What is DEI: diversity, equity and inclusion?
2020 was a wake-up call that has brought DEI to the fore in luxury and fashion
Our report looks at DEI through the lens of five key pillars
Key findings

Body positivity: from plus size to physical disability

Health awareness and dynamism see major uptick but general health overall remains poor
No one size fits all
Addressable market potential for plus-size fashion in next five years
Size snobbery in luxury fashion remains a challenge but outlook is more optimistic
Opportunities in plus-size beyond women's fashion
Plus-size fashion remains a minefield for retailers
The rise of “Self-Love Seekers” fuels demand for acceptance and diversity
Girlfriend Collective thrives in the busy athleisure market thanks to its body-positive motto
In the US, adaptive fashion is finding its way into the mainstream

Gender, LGBTQIA+ and sexual orientation

The gender conversation arguably started with women’s demand for equal pay
Luxury unisex fragrances benefit from the shift away from gender-coded ingredients
Gender as a dimension of diversity that continues to evolve with changing societal values
K-pop stars BTS defy gender stereotypes as Vuitton’s Global Brand Ambassadors
Mental health at the centre of Ugg’s 2022 Pride Campaign
Tiffany & Co has introduced engagement rings for men
Australian brand Bonds releases a gender-fluid collection

Ethnicity, race and religion

BLM has accelerated the DEI debate and brought the topic of racial injustice to the fore
But measuring diversity in terms of race, ethnicity or religion remains a minefield
Avoiding the pitfalls of cultural appropriation
Religion (or absence of religious belief) is another dimension of identity formation
UK brand Colville partners with Mexico’s “ telar de cintura ” women weavers
Uoma : a black-owned cosmetic company for all
First Nations fashion designers make history at 2021 Australian Fashion Week

Ending ageism

Empowered elders
Luxury and fashion to innovate and be more adaptive and inclusive for older consumers
Age-friendly innovation to be one of the most compelling investments in fashion and luxury
China’s e-commerce platform JD.com provides first 5G smartphone for seniors
Japan’s wearable payment ring, Evering , allows a smooth payment experience for seniors
Online US eyewear brand Zenni partners with senior icon and influencer Iris Apfel

Social mobility: from accessible luxury to new hiring practices

Luxury becomes less accessible due to rising cost of living in key luxury and fashion markets
Inflation surge puts pressure on consumers’ ability to spend on experiential luxury
Value for money remains a priority for consumers as they balance frugality and indulgence
Income inequality hampered further by COVID-19
Disparity between rich and poor widens as cost of living crisis h its p oorer h ouseholds h arder
Luxury and fashion brands confronted by increasing inflationary cost pressures
Middle class squeezed as income inequality in ley luxury markets is exacerbated
Could fashion’s rising presence in the metaverse help bridge the gap?
What does social inequality mean for luxury and fashion?
Companies can attract more consumers by being flexible in their business models
Exploring new consumption patterns as luxury beyond ownership set to boom in years ahead
Ralph Lauren diversifies to be become more inclusive to a wider demographic
Raising awareness of the benefits in hiring people with different sensitivities
Fashion industry tackles unemployment among young ex-offenders
Abloh’s “Free Game” mentorship series aimed to “ open doors for those on the fringe”

Conclusion

Still much work to be done towards true diversity and equity in luxury and fashion
But the changes witnessed since 2020 have been a step in the right direction
DEI calls for radical transparency and should ultimately connect with “Planet” and “Profits”
Key challenges to overcome
Eight practical steps to foster genuine DEI in luxury and fashion businesses

Luxury Goods

This is an aggregation of: Personal Luxury, Fine Wines/Champagne and Spirits, Luxury Cars and Experiential Luxury.

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