Real Life: Black Lives Matter & Footwear Design?? Why Your Brand Is Power!
If you are one of those who have been tuned in to the racial injustice issues being brought to light around the world then you are well aware of the turmoil and heartache that plagues communities majorly populated by black individuals and POC. If you aren't/have chosen to ignore/remain silent about this very global issue, then you certainly need to do more research, educate yourself and become more comprehensive on the prejudices placed upon us.
That being said, these past few weeks have been utterly emotional to experience, process and assimilate. As a black female who has lived through my share of policing and racial profiling, this movement definitely touches home base with me. I have spent days advocating the #BlackLivesMatter movement and creating as much awareness as I possibly can to all those who surround me, however, as much as I inform, I also identify those who are silent, show no support or make a mockery of the movement.
Now normally, I would just make a mental note of who to steer clear of and go about my day, but this particular time I just couldn't shake it. No way. I reached a breaking point when I realized the very catalyst to my design journey- Manolo Blahnik, was one of those with nothing to say...
To think that I would be tremendously inspired by someone who cared very little to speak up about black lives like mine had me questioning EVERYTHING. I mean, how could he not care? As much as I tried to, I just couldn't wrap my head around it which led me to leave this passionately written comment on the brand page:
After a few days of my routine check up on the brand page, it felt apparent that Manolo was clear about their decision to remain silent. Unfortunately for me, I came to terms with the fact that they weren't going to openly address the issue and felt the need to delete my comment, because, well... It felt as though I was begging for my love to be reciprocated.
To most people, this didn't seem like a big deal because most brands were subconsciously displaying their true colours, but to me... it was personal. I just could not let them fail me... Eventually, I channeled this pain into something creative and expressive of what it means to be black in an industry that more or less lacks adequate representation and advocacy for my kind, and I developed this:
Exactly 24 hours before sharing these images on my Instagram page, I received a direct message from Manolo Blahnik.
As much as I hoped it would be well received and honoured, I was a bit caught off guard seeing that they contacted me. The message stated their appreciation for and value of my comment and went ahead to vaguely set forth the brands intentions regarding the BLM movement. I guess we can only wait to see what radical initiative they take to counter their silence thus far. It will most definitely be an impactful motion for all of its 3.2 million followers; one that I am eagerly looking forward to.
Until next time,
UPDATE: I think it might be safe to say that I can totally forget about the ongoing racial injustice issues or police brutality in general (?)... 18 days after the crippling black square was posted with no caption, my disappointment is heavily reawakened as the brand shares another post using 3 military figurines to hold up a pair of its new designs.
UPDATE: An exciting one too! (at least for me anyway). Aside my previous disappointment and need to stay away from anything Manolo Blahnik to preserve my sanity, I have been swamped with a lot of responsibilities lately, but today I absolutely caved. Shamelessly.
I'm having a total Carrie Bradshaw moment with the education and melanin flooded unapologetically on Manolo Blahnik's Instagram page. Upon opening the brand's page, I was met with even more melanated models and a link to a campaign publication with the Mental Health Foundation about Tackling Social Inequalities To Reduce Mental Health Problems. I am absolutely living for the educative approach tied beautifully with their latest editorial images, partially because I had so much faith in Manolo, but mostly, obviously, because I am black. I encourage you to check out the publication and share with those who might be in need of a more enlightening perspective.