Emma Watson, Stella McCartney and Friends Tackle Gender Inequality in Fashion

Aug 25, 2015

Emma Watson graces the cover of British Vogue's September Issue, and we couldn't be more thrilled to see her. Not only is Hermione one of the greatest female characters of all time (we'd name our kids after her!) but we couldn't be more impressed with what the actress has done IRL.

A photo posted by British Vogue (@britishvogue) on

Emma Watson's HeForShe campaign through the United Nations is finally making headway in the important issue of gender inequality. High-level support has come from many walks of life - Ban Ki-Moon, Matt Damon, the CEO of Unilever, the President of Georgetown and many more have lent their voices. But the fashion world has been silent. Until now.

So what does gender inequality look like? According to the White House, women on average earn 77 cents to every dollar earned by a man. That gap gets wider when you look at women of color. Women are promoted only half as often as men areWomen are CEOs of just 3% of Fortune 500 companies, and of less than 2% when you pare that down to fashion companies.

And the issue isn't new to fashion either - check out this four year old article in The Daily Beast comparing the fawning acceptance of Tom Ford vs the "mean girl" response to Victoria Beckham. In the UK, women hold only 37% of the decision-making positions in fashion. Why? Fashion pioneer Benish Shah has a few ideas in this Forbes article. But the more important question is, what are we going to do about it?

That's where Watson's designer friends come in. In this video for Vogue, Watson brings together designers like Jonathan Saunders, Bella Freud, Erdem Moralioglu and Stella McCartney to share their thoughts on gender equality in the fashion industry.


So what do these designers have to say for themselves? Stella McCartney rightly starts by putting in some perspective. She says, "It's not only our industry, it's every industry... there's a massive issue with women not having equality." But that doesn't mean fashion gets a free pass, oh no. She says, "We need to give a better message to women of all ages, all sizes and all nationalities. We need to allow women to feel comfortable in who they are."

Jonathan Saunders (designer for Kate Middleton and Michelle Obama among many more) brings up the excellent point that the problem isn't only behind the scenes. He says, "I think it's a big subject, about how women are portrayed through imagery in fashion... we need to be really careful with the images we produce."

Bella Freud (of Vivienne Westwood before she started her own line) steps in to say, "The more people in general are treated with respect and fairness, then the imbalance between men and women will naturally be addressed."

What's Emma Watson's goal for all this? "I'd really really love to see a more diverse representation of women and men in any way that makes them feel empowered" she says. We agree, especially that last bit about empowerment. Not only do we want to see more women (and people of color, and the LGBTQ community, and...) but we want to see them earning the respect of their peers.

In the end, Stella McCartney has the perfect quote, "The fashion industry... has a huge voice, and the voice can be adapted. It's about time it did change."

Are you still here? Phew! Here's a little treat, because such a serious topic deserves some eye candy:

What do you think about HeForShe, or about gender equality in fashion? Leave a comment below!

Photo Credit: By DIA (Brand & Design Studio, NY)[1] (here) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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