In light of allegations against prominent figures in fashion — including Bruce Weber, John Galliano, and Mario Testino — it’s clear that the #MeToo reckoning against sexual assault has finally come to the industry. But now that (some) abusers are in the spotlight, where do we go from here?
To help answer that, former model Kristina Romanova and singer-lawyer Antoniette Costa have launched Humans of Fashion, an NGO with a mandate to “create a safer workplace” for fashion industry employees of all categories.
Romanova and Costa have designed Humans of Fashion as a platform to connect victims of assault and harassment in the fashion industry with the professionals who can help. Positioned to eventually launch as an app, it will put professionals in contact with pro bono law firms, doctors, counselors, and therapists who can help in the aftermath of an assault.
“We wanted to have a platform where we can evaluate each contact on a case-by-case basis, and provide the appropriate triage and support to deal with their issues,” Costa tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “As each situation is unique, and each person has different concerns, issues, and a comfort level in how they want deal with it, we wanted to be able to connect them with the appropriate adviser — whether it be a therapist, mentor, legal counsel, or something else.”
Another of the app’s goals is to provide assistance, ASAP. “We don’t want individuals to feel lost or neglected, and so, by using technology, we can make this connection quickly, provide guidance, and help them to move on to the next step,” says Romanova. It also allows for anonymity, as the user will be able to determine what, if any, information they want to share.
Just as the specter of the #MeToo movement is hanging over awards season, it is certain to be a presence during New York Fashion Week. In an informational letter to designers, CFDA warned designers against the “unacceptable culture” of inappropriateness, shaming, and assault that can occur backstage.
Similarly, Romanova and Costa chose to launch Humans of Fashion in the run-up to Fashion Week, in an attempt to assure models, photographers, agents, stylists, makeup artists, and the litany of people behind the scenes that a secure, fast, reporting mechanism is now in place. “What we really hope to see from our movement is to reduce the stigma around reporting sexual harassment, misconduct, and abuse in the fashion industry,” says Costa. “We’re hoping that by creating a frame of discussion, we can educate everyone on the topic, and build a safer workplace for those in the industry.”
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