Sophia Webster is taking a powerful pledge to help in the fight against racial injustice. The designer announced that this year, and every year going forward, that the company would use the Juneteenth holiday, which commemorates the end of slavery in the United States, as a marker to check its on-going progress in redressing the inequality black people in the U.S. and the world.
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On June 19th, this year and every year, we would like to use this day as an annual marker to check our on-going progress in redressing the inequality black people face. On this day 19% of our average daily sophiawebster.com net sales will be pledged towards black causes, and these causes will be identified in consultation with our black team members. We are mindful that this is not a day to promote sales, which is why we are using an annual average. We welcome other brands in our industry to participate in recognising this day and donating #19forJuneteenth. Tag your favourite brand if you’d like them to join us in this initiative. #19forJuneteenth #juneteenth #juneteenth2020 #blacklivesmatter #SophiaWebster
“In the U.S., Juneteenth or June 19th is a holiday recognizing the liberation of enslaved African Americans in 1865,” she posted on Instagram, noting that the United Kingdom, where the brand is based, doesn’t have an equivalent day of observance, but should.
In addition, Sophia Webster pledged to donate 19% of the label’s average daily e-commerce net sales towards black causes and charities, of which will be identified in consultation with its black employees.
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“We are mindful that this is not a day to promote sales, which is why we are using an annual average,” Webster explained. “We welcome other brands in our industry to participate in recognizing this day and donating #19forJuneteenth.”
Earlier this month, Webster joined other designers by standing in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter Movement amidst anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 as well as the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery earlier in the year.
“Diversity, equality and the representation of black people will always be a focus of ours,” she posted. “#BlackLivesMatter to us today and everyday.”
While many followers appreciated the post, others questioned the label’s stance, asking what other actions have taken place, prompting a response from Webster.
“When I started my brand, as a new person to the fashion industry I could see that things were not set up to include everyone,” she wrote. “Luxury brands and publications operating from racist and elitist structures was and unfortunately, in some cases, still is the status-quo. My agenda has always been to consistently represent black women and children in our messaging. My team in our office and our stores are also, consciously, culturally diverse. I’m not saying I’ve succeeded, and I do really see and engage with the fact that there is a huge amount more to do.”
Other companies are using Juneteenth as a marker to celebrate the day of freedom and reflect on history, including Target, Nike and JCPenney, all of which declared Juneteenth an annual paid company holiday for its employees.