Black lady with denim turban, fucsia sweater, jeans and white sneakers sitting on metal steps. She wears glasses. big mural behind her showing a lady.
The fashion world has always had a great influence on the perception of beauty.
I have always been very conditioned by what I saw.
Whether I wanted it or not, what the great fashion industry proposed was done according to precise standards.
For years I believed in a canon of beauty that did not represent me. I felt at fault, and constantly looking for the best way to conform to a label considered acceptable.
To be considered a beautiful black woman, I had to be like Naomi Campbell: with her physical characteristics and straight Western-looking hair.
Believe me, if you weren’t like that, you’d have a hard time dressing and finding clothes that fit your shape. In Italy for years, and often still today, if you’re looking for something specific for your skin colour, you’ll probably have to …”search online”.
Fine but…what about my shopping experience?
It took Calzedonia 32 years to understand that in Italy there are women of other colours who want to wear skin-coloured socks… in their own colours of course.
In all these years I’ve understood that, if I wanted something that was good enough for me, I either had to spend more or look for it on the Internet.
But I don’t like either of those to be my only choices. They should be an option.
Somebody says the reason lies behind the lack of demand in our country: but have they ever thought that people like me would turn somewhere else right because they are not considered enough?!
I mean, what are the statistics they are looking at?
Things have improved a bit since I was a kid, but there’s still a lot of work to do. Inclusion also applies to the possibility of shopping like everyone else: entering a shop and finding the right matches.
It’s about feeling as an active part of society.
And let’s talk about advertising!
Even worse! There are huge gaffes, most likely because there is not enough representation, not enough culture or understanding.
In my life as a woman, fashion retailer and freelance digital marketing consultant, I’ve learned many things that can help change this.
Here are my 3 tips to start adopting a more inclusive approach, no matter the size of your business:
Writing in fucsia and yellow saying three inclusive lessons
1) Reevaluate your ideal client
When you say who your target, your personas are specify all their features: it is on this that your communication and production or service creation will have to be based. Your are selling to them!
2) Representation counts
Your customers want to feel represented and to recognize themselves in what you do: in your values, in the causes you believe in, and also in your image.
It would be great if you could integrate images that represent the real society, beyond the utopian and glossy ones.
3) Let yourself be influenced by something different.
Start following people who are different from you, this will allow you to increase your awareness and knowledge; start talking and interacting with them about aspects you have in common.
These actions will help you understand and be more attentive.
Being inclusive requires serious commitment, even if sometimes it feels like walking on a minefield.
But if you really want to start considering diversity as an asset and an integral part of your every day life, please don’t waste time.