The fashion industry has always been of great influence in empowering women since time immemorial. Throughout the years, it is evident how fashion contributed to putting women into the spotlight, making them the center of a lavish, long-running spectacle, the world’s still able to witness up until today. Read everything about Women Empowerment Through Luxury Brands.
“Power dressing”, for one, has been a great avenue fashion brought about to empower women by allowing them to be bold in expressing themselves through sharp-lined sleeves and high-heeled stilettos. But beyond all the gleam and the glamour, how do you think luxury brands in fashion work in liberating women in a male dominant society?
We once talked about Empowered Enlightenment: 6 Ways to Feel Empowered As a Woman, now we’re going to show you how luxury brands initiate women empowerment.
The fashion business is known to be a very female-centric business—however, the percentage of women given the opportunity to lead A-list fashion brands remains low as of today. More than 70% of the total workforce in the fashion industry consists of women, but more or less than 25% hold leadership positions. In a business with women as primary patrons, isn’t it imperative for luxury brands to make business decisions from a female’s perspective?
Breaking the Glass Ceiling
French luxury group Kering, which owns leading fashion brands like Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, and Bottega Veneta—has been noted as one of the first to make great strides in breaking the gender gap among their organization. In 2014, Sara Crook was appointed as chief executive of Christopher Kane, while Grita Loebsack became a part of the Executive Committee back in 2015. Hélène Poulit-Duquesne was also appointed as Boucheron’s CEO during that same year, and still holds the position at present. Today, the company has a total of 38,000 employees around the world, with nearly 24,000 being women.
Kering currently strives to maintain a gender balance of 40-60% women among its workforce. Among its board of directors, 60% were female, 55% are hired in middle management positions, while only 33% of their senior executives are women, it is indubitable that Kering’s continuous effort in breaking the glass ceiling is already a great initiative for women who seek to be recognized in the fashion industry.
Another huge luxury brand with the same initiative is LVMH, which launched EllesVMH back in 2007 as the company’s commitment to fostering a more diverse workforce. This internal effort focused on encouraging professional development among women in the organization, enabling them to build networks and attain higher positions in the company. Notably, LVMH’s percentage of women in leadership positions doubled, rising from 23% to 42% between 2007 to 2020.
Inspiring Women to Embrace Ambition
In a society where women are constantly told to “know their place”, knowing one’s self-worth becomes a challenge. As women get easily crucified for wanting to lead and innovate through their means, gaining support from the government, and the society as a whole is very crucial in realizing what women are truly capable of.
Self-made billionaire and fashion industry icon, Tory Burch—created her own foundation in 2009 to empower like-minded businesswomen by providing them access to capital, business education, and mentoring and network opportunities.
During its first year, the foundation was able to lend small business loans to women business owners in New York through a nonprofit microlender, Accion. In 2017, Burch launched the #EmbraceAmbition campaign, further challenging the gender norms currently present in society. And by March 2019, the movement was brought into 10 cities across the United States, with the Bank of America doubling their Capital Program investment with a whopping $100 million of affordable loans readily provided for aspiring women entrepreneurs.
In 2020, Tory Burch held the Embrace Ambition Summit in New York, where female entrepreneurs and CEOs shared meaningful conversations in fighting the “unconscious systematic bias” in society by bringing various gender issues to light, as well as creating new norms.
What it Truly Means to be “Empowered”
While women empowerment today is exhibited through various efforts like finally welcoming plus-size models in representing high-end clothing lines or introducing more women of color as faces of famous skincare brands, we’re slowly breaking free of the stereotypes society has placed upon women. But with these social trends being sensationalized through marketing strategies, are we truly getting the essence of what it means to be empowered?
World Vision defines women empowerment as the act of promoting women’s sense of self-worth, their ability to make their own choices, as well as their right in bringing about change benefiting themselves and society as a whole. As luxury brands empower women through fashion, their effort in ensuring equal opportunities for women within their organizations is where true empowerment manifests.
Unshackling more societal plights
Aside from eliminating gender disparity, it is good to see how various luxury brands are now extending their efforts to resolve other societal issues such as global warming—by practicing more ethical ways in manufacturing their products worldwide. Louis Vuitton, for example, made its commitment to improving its energy efficiency by reducing its carbon footprint. Other brands like Gucci, Autumn Adeigbo, and Stella McCartney share the same interests by achieving their brands’ sustainability objectives.
Through years of effort devoted to uplifting and supporting women in our society, it’s inspiring to see how far we’ve come today. But it doesn’t mean that it finally ends here—in a world full of barriers caused by systematic discrimination, we’re not done until these old-fashioned perceptions get deracinated.