Munroe Bergdorf is a transgender model and activist from England. She has walked for several brands at NYFW as well as London Fashion Week. Munroe was awarded the ‘Changemaker of the Year’ at the 2018 Cosmopolitan Awards, and an honorary doctorate by the University of Brighton in 2019.
She has also been associated with UN Women UK’s campaign #DrawALine, a campaign against female genital mutilation, since 2019.
Bergdorf spoke to The Guardian in an exclusive interview about fashion companies and their relationships with social movements.
WHAT DID MUNROE BERGDORF SAY?
Munroe spoke about brands using movements such as the Black Lives Matter movement to earn profits, when their actions are antithetical to the movement itself.
“You can’t use a marginalized movement for capital gain or to improve your public image. White people need to see the humanity in us – I don’t think society ever got over us being property [as slaves].”
Many brands have been called out for their hypocrisy.
Celine, a French ready-to-wear and leather luxury goods brand, posted a seemingly “woke” message on its Instagram account.
“Celine stands against all forms of discrimination, oppression and racism.”
The brand was called out for using black models as tokens and as a small percentage of their shows. At its AW20 show, only 10 out of their 111 models were black.
Similarly, Carine Roitfeld, the founder of CR Fashion Book founder, was criticized for putting up a picture with Anok Yai, saying “Anok is not a black woman, she is my friend.” Critics alleged that “before the murder of George Floyd you never posted a black woman before.”
Bergdorf also responded to people’s negative responses to violent protests against police brutality.
“It shouldn’t be: ‘It’s such a shame a black man died, but why are people destroying property.’”
She added –
“It should be: ‘It’s a shame people are destroying property, but a black man died.’”
In 2017, L’Oreal hired Munroe for True Match beauty campaign. However, she was fired after she reacted to racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, in a Facebook post.
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The company said –
“Comments by Munroe Bergdorf are at odds with our values.”
Bergdorf stated that simply hiring black individuals isn’t enough.
“If brands want to hire black talent, they need to pay them their worth, and if the fashion industry wants to be progressive, they need to address the inequality within the industry.”