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What we wear often makes a statement, and in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the global fashion industry is facing a racial reckoning. Roxana Saberi has the story.
- What we wear often makes a statement, and in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, the global fashion industry is facing a racial reckoning. CBS' Roxana Saberi has that story tonight from London.
ROXANA SABERI: When Beverly Johnson posed for the cover of Vogue in 1974, she made history.
BEVERLY JOHNSON: Because there had never been a black woman on that cover, and I realized the responsibility that came with this.
- She says in the decade since, she requested black photographers and makeup artists, but was reprimanded, and that she often earned less from modeling jobs than her white peers.
BEVERLY JOHNSON: And racism was alive and thriving.
ROXANA SABERI: What has changed?
BEVERLY JOHNSON: It's been an amazing moment, I think, in the world. People are, finally, listening.
ROXANA SABERI: Listening as the Black Lives Matter movement has amplified calls for the fashion industry to tackle accusations of racism from this blackface sweater by Gucci and this Burberry hoodie, featuring a noose, to a widespread lack of diversity. Kenya Hunt is the Deputy Editor at Grozier UK magazine.
- You see the exclusivity at every level of the industry. You know, the magazines. What do magazine staffs look like? What are the board of directors of a lot of these big brands look like?
ROXANA SABERI: So when big brands showed support for Black Lives Matter, some critics accused them of hypocrisy. But if you look at recent Fashion Week's, big fashion issues, and pledges to back black owned businesses, Hunt says, Black Lives Matter is starting to make a big impact.
What effects have you seen on the fashion industry?
- It's empowered people to really speak candidly and honestly about their own experiences.
- So this is like I quote the triangle.
ROXANA SABERI: People, like Ozwald Boateng. He was the first black head designer at a luxury fashion house Givenchy. He was honored by Queen Elizabeth, and has put on shows across the world. Still, he says, for years, he absorbed racism silently.
- If I was white, what would be the difference, right? Would it be this hard? Would I be maybe more successful?
ROXANA SABERI: Boateng is calling for more opportunities for people of color and reparations for the descendants of enslaved people.
- You've got to look at the whole picture. There needs to be a shift, actually, which, by the way, is happening.
ROXANA SABERI: Beverly Johnson, also, sees a shift. She's pushing her industry to interview, at least, two black professionals for each influential role.
BEVERLY JOHNSON: I'm having some meaningful conversations with some titans in the fashion industry.
ROXANA SABERI: And the conversations are just a start. She says, they can lead to real resolutions to racism in fashion and beyond. Roxana Saberi, CBS News, London.