The list of retailers that have committed to the 15 Percent Pledge is seeing robust growth during Black History Month — late yesterday, another industry-leading name joined the mission.
“We had an honest look at what we were doing for Black creatives versus what we could be doing, and saw taking the Pledge as a way to hold ourselves more accountable,” Sharifa Murdock, Kith chief of people and culture, said via Instagram. “That’s been great, not just for accountability but as a tool for discovery. We’ve been carrying Black designers in the shops, but the pledge is already forcing us to notice a diverse set of up-and-coming creators, which brings value to our product mix. Holding ourselves to higher standards of inclusion gives us more to offer not only as a platform but as a brand.”
James used her personal Instagram account to commend Kith for signing the pledge.
“This announcement is important because the streetwear industry and some of the biggest athletic companies in the world have taken an unfathomable amount of inspiration from Black culture and dollars from the Black community with almost zero financial investment in return and nominal inclusion,” James wrote on the social media platform. “I applaud Kith for being at the forefront of change within this landscape and continuing to lead by example.”
James’ efforts started to take shape in June 2020, when the Brother Vellies founder used Instagram to call on major retailers to pledge 15% of their shelf space to Black-owned businesses. “We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space,” she wrote at the time on Instagram, specifically mentioning Target, Whole Foods, Net-a-Porter, Home Depot, Sephora, Barnes & Noble and Saks Fifth Avenue in the post.
Since then, the 15 Percent Pledge has become a full-scale nonprofit program, with Macy’s Inc., Sephora and Rent the Runway signing on to the mission — which also includes a commitment to education and training on matters of diversity and inclusion — last year.
This month, Gap joined the 15 Percent Pledge as an “advocacy partner,” committing to ensure there is Black representation across the company. The nonprofit stated the commitment starts with early empowerment programs, which include a focus on internships, externships, apprenticeships and trainings.
Today, Next Models and Moda Operandi also signed on to the pledge — signaling major momentum behind James’ effort across all segments of the fashion and retail business.