We Speak’s (evolving) Guide to A Better Industry
You’ve heard it all: tokenism, systemic racism, fast fashion, unequal wages. Working with We Speak models means working toward a just industry. By hiring a We Speak model, our partners are making a pledge. For a better industry. Never has there been a better moment in time to leverage our privileges as an industry to raise the voices of the unheard and change the world we live in.
In light of current protests against racism in America and in an effort to leverage this moment and move the fashion industry forward, We Speak is making a pledge to help guide partners who hire our models to implement real systemic change. Our models contributed their collective thoughts and amended this guide until it finally felt fully inclusive of how our industry should operate.
Change doesn’t happen overnight. Making this pledge means taking time to map out concrete plans, finding realistic solutions toward these plans, and remaining open to future changes and adaptations as our guide evolves alongside our fluid industry.
We hope you will join us in making this pledge for a better industry.
Tokenism is real and it is hurtful. Tokenism is the bi-product of bias: a performative effort towards representation without including those you seek to represent in the greater conversation. Real inclusion and equality in fashion is a commitment to do better. It is a commitment not just to show Black, LGBTQ+, disabled bodies, and all age groups in advertising, but to include these and other marginalized people in the workforce and conversation. That means:
- Building diverse managerial and internal teams long preceding the campaign process.
- Hiring marginalized people in creative and marketing roles as well as positions of power.
- Hiring hair stylists and makeup artists equipped for all textures of hair and all skin tones.
- Planning ahead for predetermined hair or style changes. Reimburse and compensate for styles requiring model’s time before shoot day. Consider non traditional and protective styles.
- Hiring experienced stylists who can fit and dress bodies of all sizes.
- When casting, refuse to “tick a box.” Include casting considerations for non traditional features. Consider models of all walks of life. Your campaigns will be authentically inclusive when your internal teams are, too.
- Have an understanding of and respect for model requirements and make the whole set aware in advance. This includes hair, wardrobe/modesty, gender pronouns, dietary restrictions, etc.
- Being aware of cultural appropriation: ie. do not ask models to don contrived cultural symbols that do not match their personal beliefs or background.
- Listening & educating yourself and those around you how to do better.
- Asking questions before the shoot day. Thoughtful questions are appreciated and highlight your mindfulness.
- Engaging in conversation that does nothing to make light of or demean on the basis of race, age, ethnicity, gender identity, weight, ability level, and other aspects of personhood.
- Discourage discrimination of any sort on set immediately and verbally.
- Allow a safe space for models to speak up without judgment or backlash. Value, listen to, and act on their input.
By staying open to a greater dialogue with our teams and committing to these principals, you will make authentic strides in including and lifting up the voices of marginalized people.
In fashion, we have a responsibility. Collectively, our industry is extremely powerful. We represent and spotlight the most powerful influencers on the globe. Change doesn’t happen overnight but individual actions add up when we act toward a common goal. We encourage you to make the changes we need, both on set and off:
- Consider making content production a zero waste/carbon-neutral activity.
- Eliminate plastic bottles from set completely. Use reusable bottles instead.
- Consider providing sustainable local and organic farm sourced food and donating leftover food.
- For large companies and large productions, consider purchasing carbon offsets to balance what cannot be eliminated.
- Secure set locations and studios that place an emphasis upon renewable-energy.
- Fast fashion needs to be restructured and decolonized. Make efforts toward dismantling fast fashion.
- Commit to producing quality products made to last.
- Eliminate animal testing.
- Commit to carbon-neutral packaging and consider new ways packaging can be reduced, reused, and recycled.
- Consider ways to incorporate renewable products and materials into production. Find ways to repurpose old materials and designs to promote zero waste.
- Source an ethical manufacturing and supply chain from beginning to end. Consider staying local.
Understand that some of our models choose not to work with brands that don’t make authentic efforts toward protecting our planet and ending fast fashion.
Our world is changing rapidly. COVID was a tipping point for many industries and communities throughout the world. We require that production has a specific plan in place for COVID-19 precautions and that better practices for models and workers on set are upheld. This includes:
- Maintaining a specific social distancing plan for as long as COVID remains a threat to Americans and our communities, which includes providing models and production with masks, gloves, sanitizer, and temperature checks.
- Establishing and maintaining a hygiene plan for hair, styling, and makeup teams.
- Letting us know what these plans entail when booking a model so expectations on set and off are clear. For specific guidelines, visit the CDC.
- Providing a separate, sanitized changing room for each model and ensuring garments are sanitized.
- Limiting touching models and always asking first.
- Adjusting model budget and rate expectations for increased (at-home) production asks.
Does your company have a set guideline for COVID19 with strict, enforceable expectations?
Let’s do better. Join us. Will you pledge to implement systemic changes alongside us and protect those upon which our industry relies?
Contact us to begin the discussion and join our growing list of partners making this pledge below.