Since the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic, many countries have seen an alarming surge in racist and xenophobic attacks against the Asian community. Former President Donald Trump and other American officials played a significant part in the increase of attacks seen in the US, after repeatedly calling the coronavirus “the Chinese Virus” and “Kung Flu”.
According to data collected by Stop AAPI Hate, 2,808 reports of anti-Asian discrimination were filed between March 19 and December 31, 2020. In response to the surge, President Joe Biden signed a memorandum last month, condemning the attacks against Asian-Americans. The online outcry was overwhelming, with big social media players such as @Bryanboy, @chrisellelim and @danielmartin posting #stopasianhate. Influencer, Tina Leung, has started a GoFundMe page, named ‘Support The AAPI Community Fund’, where donations can be made to help amplify voices and to uplift and empower the Asian communities. Despite the outcries from industry creatives raising awareness, the attacks are still rising worldwide. But what have brands, especially luxury and fashion brands had to say?
So far, brands such as Valentino, Nike, Converse, Stock X and Tommy Hilfiger have taken to Instagram to demonstrate their support for the Asian community, using the #stopasianhate hashtag. Social media users are being encouraged by industry players to raise awareness by sharing their own experiences of racial harassment and abuse. Over 12,000 posts have been published on Instagram using the tag (at the time of publishing), although most high-profile brands are still yet to comment. The luxury fashion industry depends heavily on the creative talent from the Asian community, like Brian Boy and Chriselle Lim. In the US, 48 of 477 members in the Council Fashion Designers of America identify themselves as Asian, according to the Los Angeles Times. The fashion industry also heavily relies on Asian consumers, who make up 35% of global luxury sales 2019 according to Bain & Company. So is a single social media post enough? No.
If we have learned anything over the last year, it’s that the fashion community is a powerful force to be reckoned with. It’s one of the most influential industries in the world.
Balenciaga designed a capsule collection in support of world hunger, donating 20% of proceeds to the World Food Programme. The Kering Group made a $1 million AUD donation to support the Australian bush fires that devastated the country in Jan 2020. Gucci announced $2 million USD to the UN COVID-19 response fund. Nike donated $40 million USD to Black organizations, following its “Don’t Do It” anti-racism campaign in 2020. All these donations and initiatives help drive positive change towards a unified outcome. So why has there been so little response to the #stopasianhate movement? Only when the industry stands as a community against race and hate crimes can these issues start to be resolved.
HOW TO GET INVOLVED:
You can donate to the AAPI Fund via their GoFundMe page. The fund benefits organizations such as Mekong NYC, Asian Health Services and AAPI Women Lead. If you can’t donate financially, then you can show your support by reporting any cases of anti-Asian assaults and crimes with Stop AAPI Hate. Social media is another powerful tool. Using key hashtags to highlight posts and articles around this issue will bring more attention to the movement, particularly with the use of #stopasianhate, #HATEISAVIRUS, and #ProtectOurElders. Research the history of Asian hate, a lot of the origins of Asian racism, dating back to colonialism and white supremacy. A great read is Hate Is A Virus Toolkit. The book explains AAPI history and how to stand against racism and xenophobia.
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