S04 Episode 207 | THE ROOT | Episode 3 | Racism In The Fashion Industry

The Root Episode 3: Racism In The Fashion Industry is broken down into 2 segments. The first segment focuses on the designer lens in which Dominique Drakeford speaks with sustainable fashion designers Miko Underwood and DJ discussing the creation of the fashion industry and the importance of shifting the white exploitive gaze through historical analysis, Black abundance mindset and cultural responsibility. In the second segment, Dominique Drakeford hones in on the “influencer” lens by speaking with Aja Barber and Emi Ito on the uses of social media as a tool for education, advocacy and solidarity against institutional oppression.

Damian Joel (preferably called D.J.) is a self-taught designer who credits his interest in fashion to years of witnessing his mother sweat over her sewing machine to make ends meet. After years of working in corporate Jamaica as a Marketing and PR executive, D.J. transitioned his career, and became a regular style correspondent on Jamaica’s morning show. He also acted as a Personal Stylist to Olympic gold medallist Shelly-Ann Fraser Pryce. In 2014, D.J. headed to New York, where he has managed to carve out his own space— without formal training — relying merely on his intuitive talent in fashion.

Links to DJ’s work:

Miko Underwood is an artist, seasoned design director, sustainability practitioner, actionist and the founder of the first sustainable denim brand in Harlem, NY, Oak & Acorn - Only for the Rebelles, a genderless luxury heritage brand. A denim expert, with nearly twenty years of wash & product and brand development, Miko founded BLDG 357, Inc. a boutique multimedia design consultancy with global clients in the U.S., China, Hong Kong, Vietnam, New Zealand & West Africa. Miko is the consulting creative director for We Got Us Now, a nonprofit that focuses on identifying & amplifying the voices of children and young adults impacted by parental incarceration & active voice for those who share her personal story in the fashion community.

Links to Miko’s work:

Aja Barber is a writer, stylist and consultant who lives in London. Aja's work centers around fashion, feminism, sustainability, race, colonization and all the issues that are holding the fashion industry back from being its best self.

Links to follow Aja’s work:

Emi Ito is a mother and public educator on Chochenyo Ohlone land in the Bay Area. Her Buddhist practice and journey of becoming a mother led her to explore and embrace sustainable fashion. She became outspoken about the cultural appropriation of the kimono as well as the need for wider representation of BIPOC in ethical fashion. She is the founder and co-moderator of Buy From BIPOC, a website and Instagram that celebrates BIPOC makers and creatives with a focus on slow, sustainable, and ethical fashion. Emi is also a Steering Committee member of Japanese Americans for Justice and the Committee Chair for the Families & Kids Committee of Tsuru for Solidarity. Both organizations focus on anti-racist solidarity work to combat anti-Black racism and the incarceration of families by ICE.

Links to follow Emi’s work:

This week's episode is in partnership with Levi's. Coming this Fall, Levi’s® SecondHand— a new way to shop sustainably for well-worn, highly covetable, perfectly imperfect jeans. Because if everybody bought one used item of clothing this year, instead of buying new, it would save 449 million pounds of waste. (source: ThredUp) Learn more at Levi.com/Secondhand.