An Update From Universal Standard:
On Monday June 1, we posted the message below to signal our solidarity with the fight against racial injustice, police violence, and systemic inequality. This message went out across all of our platforms, reaching tens of thousands in our community.
Our intention was to lay out an action plan — a set of concrete to-dos we can take on as an organization that would contribute to the movement in a meaningful way. We wanted to set an example for our customers and others in the fashion industry. However, though we acknowledged the hard work that black creatives and former. black employees have done to build our brand into what it is today, we failed to point out our current reality: right now, out of our 25 employees, only one is black, and she’s on neither the executive or marketing teams.
The hard truth is this: our company ethos is all about inclusivity and representation, but our team, across all levels, doesn’t have the representation it should. Monday’s message was written by a marketing team with no black voices. We could hide behind the fact that our intentions were good — but intentions mean nothing without transparency. This isn’t just the world’s problem, or the industry’s problem; it’s our problem.
To be clear: the actions we pledged to take in our message — the donations, the partnerships, the initiatives to uplift and amplify black voices in our community — still stand. We’ve given $10,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, and plan to donate 100% of the profits from sales today and tomorrow. We are committed to examining and addressing our internal structure to create a workplace that better reflects the inclusivity and representation we value.
We archived our original post until we could provide more context and transparency, and we put it back for the sake of accountability and telling the full story. We encourage our community and those in our industry (especially those who voiced support for the original message) to re-read and think about the implications and nuance of this kind of messaging. In trying to do the right thing, we inadvertently skirted past our own complicity in fashion’s race problem, and ultimately perpetuated it. We failed to acknowledge the uncomfortable truth that solidarity without total transparency and honesty serves ourselves more than it serves the fight for equality. We apologize wholeheartedly, and commit ourselves to doing better. Please, hold us accountable — our DMs and inboxes are always open.
Universal Standard stands in solidarity with anyone protesting systemic injustice, police violence, white supremacy, and the destruction of black lives and communities. We believe unequivocally that Black Lives Matter.
We also recognize how the fashion industry benefits from the work of black creators. Our black employees, models, photographers, stylists, makeup artists, influencers, and customers have been instrumental to making our brand what it is today.
Finally, as we enter into June, we’re aware of how inextricably linked the legacy of Pride Month is to the efforts of black and brown queer and trans people like Marsha P. Johnson, Sylvia Rivera, and Stormé DeLarverie, whose fight against police brutality and targeted harassment at Stonewall catalyzed a movement. Pride as we know it wouldn’t exist without their bravery, organizing, and insurrection.
All of that considered, our team has created a list of actionable items to support protest efforts and Pride, amplify the black voices in our community, and further work to change our industry from within.
1 - First, we’re making a donation to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. We encourage our customers to do the same, and make the promise to keep links to donation present across our site, emails, and social media platforms. Additionally, we encourage you to check out our stories for a link to bail fund organizations to donate to in your city.
2 - On Wednesday, June 3, we’ll be donating all profits from sales to the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund.
3 - Universal Standard will match every employee’s donations, and allow time off for any employee who wants to participate in protests.
4 - We're exploring ways to partner with black-owned businesses and consultants to further diversify our content and share our platform. Ultimately, our goal is to create more industry-wide visibility and parity for black creators, founders, and designers.
5 - We’re postponing the launch of our Pride campaign this week to encourage our community to focus on the fight for black lives, and to further organize our charitable efforts to benefit organizations that support black and queer communities.
For US, this list is just the beginning. Our brand tagline is All Of Us, As We Are —but now, we’re asking ourselves how we can be more, and how we can implore our community to do the same. So many of you are already activated in your communities, and we’re in the process of developing strategies to amplify your impactful work. Ultimately, we want our platform to become yours. We’re open to feedback, suggestions on where to donate, or what you’d like to see from us. Our DMs and comments are always open.
Stay safe, and take care of each other.