by Stephen Garner

The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) has launched a new job platform. Called “Impact,” the new, multi-faceted initiative aims to create opportunities for historically underrepresented and unsupported communities in fashion.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement to take action and create sustainable change against the social and economic marginalization of Black people, Impact addresses the decades-long system of exclusion of Black talent in the industry with hopes to create a blueprint for other industries to follow.

The initiative’s name is adopted from CFDA’s mission “to strengthen the impact of American fashion designers in the global economy.” Impact will identify, connect, support, and nurture Black and Brown creatives and professionals in fashion, furthering CFDA’s mission to advance American fashion by including diverse talent in every facet of the industry’s ecosystem. CFDA is launching Impact with a talent directory powered by Creatively, the job platform for creatives, on Friday, February 26.

As an extension of CFDA’s current work around building and maintaining multi-stakeholder social impact programs, CFDA Impact will connect its 450-plus members, fashion adjacent companies, fashion institutions and nonprofit and university partners, and a network of industry professionals across disciplines and levels to full/part-time jobs, freelance opportunities, and paid internships.

Brand partners for the launch include Alice + Olivia, Gap, Good American, Hope for Flowers, Kenneth Cole, Rag & Bone, Ralph Lauren, Saks Off 5th, Skims, Tom Ford, Tory Burch, and Veronica Beard.

CFDA is taking an individual, company, and industry approach to building greater representation and autonomy. From the recent CFDA and PVH State of Diversity Equity & Inclusion in Fashion study and report, Black employees at the individual level report feeling less prepared for their first job search. Through a range of initiatives including open access, group mentoring, industry programming, and community building, Impact will support and nurture Black and Brown creatives and professionals. CFDA will build a coalition of members and fashion adjacent companies that are equally committed to providing economic and social opportunities to Black and Brown creatives and professionals.

CaSandra Diggs, president of the CFDA

Impact’s Black Advisory Board has been instrumental in providing support in bolstering CFDA’s commitment to addressing the lack of racial diversity of the industry. Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Samira Nasr, Netflix chief marketing officer Bozoma Saint John, U.S. head of e-commerce and digital of Tod’s Group Stacie Henderson, and CFDA member Martin Cooper are on the board, and Tracy Reese serves as executive board vice chairwoman.

“This work is essential to the future of American fashion, which must be diverse, equitable, and inclusive,” said CaSandra Diggs, president of the CFDA. “The CFDA is proud to take the lead in this important effort for the industry and beyond. We launch Impact with a specific focus on widening talent pipelines and advancing career development for Black and Brown creatives and professionals. In the future, we will further the initiative to also address other inequities within the fashion system. I would like to thank Creatively for its collaboration on the talent directory, as well as CFDA’s Black Advisory Board for the guidance on this critical work.”

“I am so proud to be a part of CFDA at this pivotal moment in our industry’s evolution,” added Reese, who is behind the sustainable brand Hope for Flowers. “CFDA, the Impact team, and generous partners are dedicated to rolling out programming that is thoughtful, nuanced, and targeted to achieve measurable, sustainable, and positive change in fashion. We hope this ground-breaking work will set the trend for other industries.”