Monday, August 31, 2015

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Recognizes

Tuskegee NEXT: Exploration. Aviation. Innovation--

In a time when Black lives and their value are such a hot point of discussion, it's so refreshing to see an organization doing something positive and uplifting.  Tuskegee NEXT is on a mission to train and support Chicago-area minority youth in obtaining their pilots license.  Students will be introduced and immersed in the aerospace industry through education, mentoring, life skills, and real flight training behind the clouds.  Opportunities and organizations like this are so necessary.  This is remarkable. 

This organization is important because of the options it provides to youngsters possibly believing they have limits.  Tuskegee NEXT is taking mentorship to the next level--opening doors where they may have been locked shut or unrevealed.  They are standing on the wings of the trailblazing Tuskegee Airmen.

So far, students have been super excited to participate in the program and share the experience with their family and friends.  Chicago's CBS affiliate has even spotlighted the organization, giving much credit where it's due.

In their own words, Tuskegee NEXT seeks to highlight and develop math and science skills in minority students with interest in the aerospace industry--all in collaboration with the Tuskegee Airmen Chicago "DODO" Chapter.  With that kind of support, what more could you ask for?!

Check them out on the web, get your future pilot enrolled, and to be a sponsor click here!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Thursday, August 20, 2015

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

"I'll Just Get Another One"--Is Fast Fashion Killing Your Pocket?

When fashion first hit the map in the way we know it today--you know, when Charles Worth started putting labels with his name on them in the garments he made--consumers were not only buying custom pieces, but making investments.  We're a bit departed from that today.

Today, we quickly run to stores like Zara, H&M, or Forever 21 (me included, but I'm working on improving my ethical fashionista practices, ok?!).  While those stores give us the quick fix we need, often at their risk of an infringement lawsuit, they also present problems for our pocketbooks.  With a plethora of reasonably priced costume jewelry, t-shirts and dresses to last for a few wears, it's hard not to fall into the trap of spending.  Unfortunately, the trap is actually a spiral.

Going back to the days of Charles Worth, garments, and probably accessories, too were made to last.  Shoppers considered them investments.  They may have had to wear them a bit more often than we'd like to don outfits these days, but the pieces were solid.  They should have been, and should be.  They were quality.  Today, the garments at fast fashion outlets not only skirt the line of infringing on a designer's hard work (both established and new designers), but also put a hurting on the pocketbook--subconsciously.  

What consumers aren't considering when buying 5 dresses for $100 is, "they'll be back".  They'll be back soon.  Those $20 dresses will only last so long before falling victim to the washing machine or an easily snapped string one way or another.  At first blush, the response is--"I'll get another one."  Yep, and put more money into the hands of companies with questionable labor practices or terrible corporate cultures--the discriminatory and disrespectful kind.  (See Zara)  We'll continue to help the owners of Zara and H&M be 2 of the 10 richest people on the planet.  What's also happening is more money coming out of the consumer's pocket.  Every single time a purchase is made for a quick fix, it's less money to be spent on something made of better quality; something which will last longer and wear better.

Very few of us are completely innocent in feeding this bad habit.  Hopefully though, we'll all think twice when we turn down the $45 garment for 3-$50 ones.  Sometimes, that's a great deal.  Sometimes, it's a raw deal.

For more on ethical fashion, click here!

Monday, August 17, 2015

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

Designers Focus In On Internet Vigilance--

Many established designers were hesitant to embrace the virtual world.  After all, their namesake founders began the collections in small shops or even rooms in their homes.  Soon enough, the internet world caught on, and the ease of shopping made for big benefits to seasoned luxury retailers.  

Then came the negatives.

Despite the plethora of advantages to e-commerce, burdens and disadvantages come along as well.  While luxury brands bring customer experience to the fingertips, so too, do counterfeiters and gray market producers.  As we've discussed here many times, gray market goods are those produced in legitimate luxury factory settings, but outside of legitimate production terms.  Counterfeiters usually take it a step further, producing their own look-alike items.  These goods are generally 2's and 3's in the marketplace.  Remember the Rating System?  

Why Does This Really Matter?  Everyone is Making Money?
With so many online squatters, luxury brands are forced to keep up constant vigilance over their brands online.  This becomes extremely difficult when the internet is flooded with search terms, improper image use, licensing breaches, and sites changing every single day. But, who cares?  The reputable brands get money from their base, and the counterfeit market gets money from their, wholly separate base, right?  Nope. 

We've discussed the great downside of counterfeits--the funding they provide for human trafficking and other horrible crimes.  There is a damage to the designer, too (not eclipsing the trafficking, of course--just separate).  

The crime to the brand--whether luxury founded in the 1800s or worked on tirelessly in a university studio this year-- hurts the bottom line.  It hurts more, the name; the reputation. The problem here is the compromise to one's rights, image to the public, and invitation for confusion when consumers are looking for the right item to suit them.  

Designers must be forever cautious of how they market their brand and where they allow it to be exploited. Just recently, Gucci owner Kering sued China's largest e-commerce brand over harboring fakes on the site.  Nearly $82billion is lost annually to designers' fight against fakes. Many designers are putting millions into this vigilance--millions away from the design shop and brand promotion.  Although the money is a major factor, let us not forget the disregard for brand reputation, too.  It's so similar to one's personal reputation.  Guard it with your life.  

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Law

Blissful Ignorance: Abercrombie Can’t Pretend They Didn’t Know They Were Discriminating

All fashion enthusiasts will agree that the way we dress is an important aspect of our self-expression. For many people, clothing choices go beyond a way to express their personal style and become a part of their religious, cultural, or gender identity. However, in the working world, an employer has the legitimate right to impose a dress code on his or her employees to convey a sense of professionalism or uniformity in that business. What happens when the right of an employer to enforce a dress code conflicts with an employee’s right to dress in accordance with his or her beliefs? The recent Supreme Court decision, EEOC v. Abercrombie and Fitch Stores, Inc., highlights the importance of preserving the rights of the individuals even when they may conflict with dress code policies.

            Title VII requires that any dress code imposed by an employer not be discriminatory towards any one group and be enforced consistently and evenhandedly. This does not necessarily mean that the dress codes may not be discriminatory in effect. For example, the Abercrombie policy in question, banning any “caps” while at work, is not outwardly discriminatory in that it targets one group over another. Rather, no employee, regardless of religious background, was permitted to wear a cap. The effect, however, was discriminatory against women who wore a headscarf for religious reasons. When a policy is not outwardly discriminatory but still has a discriminatory effect, the employer must allow accommodations and exceptions when requested by employees whose beliefs are contrary to the dress code, unless the accommodation would cause “undue hardship” on the employer. An example of an undue hardship would be a safety or health issue caused by the accommodation for which there is no other reasonable alternative. (EEOC v. Grand Central Partnership – sanitation workers with dreadlocks could not be terminated for refusing to cut their dreadlocks for religious purposes so long as they could reasonably be tied up neatly).

            In the Abercrombie case, Samantha Elauf applied for a job at one of the retail stores in Oklahoma. She impressed the assistant manager at the interview, however, was not offered a job because her headscarf conflicted with Abercrombie’s controversial “look policy.” The assistant manager did not ask about Elauf’s religious practices, rather, she assumed she wore the scarf for faith-based reasons and assumed that she would wear it every day. Abercrombie contended at trial that Elauf never requested an accommodation and the manager did not actually know whether or not her headscarf was a religious observance. Therefore – they claim – they did not discriminate by denying her the job since all they knew was that this applicant was violating their look policy. They assert that any suspicions about her religious beliefs were irrelevant without actual knowledge or a request for accommodation. The Court ruled against Abercrombie and held that you cannot deny a prospective employee a job out of fear that they might request an accommodation. Title VII only requires that the adverse employment action be at least motivated in part by religious discrimination. Even though the manager was not positive that Elauf wore a headscarf for religious purposes, she admittedly at least suspected that to be the case and did not hire her because of it. This is sufficient to conclude she was motivated by religious discrimination even without actual knowledge of Elauf’s religion.

            The Court recognized that this ruling may require employers to ask prospective employees about their religious beliefs and whether they would need an accommodation. This could potentially lead to stereotyping and uncomfortable conversations. After all, if Elauf did not wear a headscarf for religious purposes but rather as a personal fashion choice, Abercrombie would have been justified in requiring that she take it off in compliance with their policy or risk being terminated. However, the interest in preventing discrimination before the prospective employee has even had a chance to request an accommodation outweighs this potential for awkward conversations.

          Abercrombie is no stranger to discrimination law suits. In 2004, they settled a case in which they were accused of keeping minority employees in back-room, stocking positions and reserving the sales floor spots for white workers. The result was a $40 million settlement and an agreement on Abercrombie’s part to hire diversity recruiters at the corporate level. Even more similar, in 2011 the company settled a suit in which a Muslim woman was fired for refusing to remove her headscarf. Allowing headscarves was determined to be a reasonable accommodation, and “distracting from the brand” was not considered an “undue hardship” on Abercrombie. Here, Elauf’s case was a great victory in taking protections for an individual’s right to dress according to their religious beliefs in the work place one step further. The effect of this case is that employers will not be able to use “I didn’t really know” as an excuse to cover up discriminatory motives in hiring practices. It is important that the court continue to recognize how important clothing choices can be to one’s sense of self and protects that right in the work place and beyond.

Stay tuned for more on ethical fashion...

Monday, June 29, 2015

B.A.F.F.L.E.D. Fashion Fix

Louboutin Brings Diversity to Shoes---

Christian Louboutin stays at the forefront of the fashion industry. This time he's doing it by expanding his Nudes line, to include a wider range of colors considered--nude.

For years, "nude" shoes, and other items for that mater, have come in shades of blush, tan, and faded pinks. Not much has been available for women of darker and more olive tones. Christian is saying, "no more". Starting in August, ladies will be able to find shades closer to their skin tone, and truly wear a " nude" shoe. In a time where diversity, acceptance, and tolerance need the right attention, this is a great move. The limited range of "nudes" clearly missed the mark for far too many years.

Ladies, will you be finding your Louboutin Nude? Show us your #NudesforAll on social media.

Hopefully other designers follow suit.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

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