The Outsiders Perspective Launches Forum for BIPOC Fashion Talent


The Outsiders Perspective, a UK-based nonprofit focused on ethnic minorities in fashion, has launched TOP Community, an industry wide alliance connecting people of colour working in the industry.

On Tuesday, the organisation, in partnership with the Fashion Business School at London College of Fashion, held its first biannual meeting for the group, which will function much like an industry-wide ERG. (ERGs are employee-led groups designed to unite underrepresented groups, foster camaraderie and promote inclusivity within companies.)

The group comprises of about 50 fashion-industry professionals from brands such as Alexander McQueen, Chanel, Asos, and Burberry, working in functions like merchandising, marketing, human resources, and sales. The members, who hold roles ranging from junior to C-suite level, were nominated by their respective companies.

Nominees will hold a space for a year and then pass their seat on to a colleague.

Founded by former Roksanda chief executive Jamie Gill, The Outsiders Perspective is focused on increasing representation among people of colour in the fashion, luxury and beauty industries. It has an incubation programme aimed at helping BIPOC professionals transition into fashion in operational (rather than creative) roles . (That programme opens for applications on July 4.)

One of its biggest learnings so far, Gill said, is many people of colour are still the only — or one of very few — ethnic minorities in their organisations or on their teams. That can make them feel isolated and lead to burnout or quitting. One of the most effective ways to prevent this is by creating a strong sense of community, The Outsiders Perspective found.

“[ERGs] are what has been so successful in bigger global corporations around moving change forward,” Gill said. “So if an individual brand is small and they can’t … why don’t we do that on an industry level?”

Even at larger organisations with well-run ERGs, many leaders say their workforce sees a larger connection with ethnic minorities at other brands as the “next evolution of that,” he said.

During each meeting, anonymised insights from the group will be collected by “mediators” from The Fashion Business School and shared as a white paper with business leadership, to inspire change from the top, Gill said.

In January, The Outsiders Perspective, in collaboration with the British Fashion Council, the (Fashion) Minority Report and McKinsey & Co released an inaugural report outlining the progress of DEI in the UK fashion industry. The document showed that people of colour make up roughly 9 percent of executive teams and boards of directors, and they hold only 11 percent of power roles — creative directors, chief executive, chief financial officer and other titles — at UK fashion firms. Women make up 39 percent of executive leaders and hold about 24 percent of the most powerful jobs, the study found.

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