Influencer Jackie Aina has kick-started a campaign on Twitter and Instagram to get popular fast-fashion brands to speak up about the death of George Floyd. The 32-year-old influencer, who has built her platform in the beauty and fashion industry, is known for regularly calling out brands who fail to embrace inclusivity.
In a series of videos she posted to her Instagram story, she said: “As we know there are a lot of brands who love capitalizing on black culture, black aesthetic, but are dead silent when it comes to talking about black issues and black struggles in our community.”
“The memes you guys are posting on your pages are just not gonna cut it. Do more. Don’t just be present when it’s time to be lit, on the gram.”
“So just as much as y’all love hanging out with Ty Dolla $ign, Saweetie, and Blac Chyna, can y’all actually say something when black people are being brutally murdered by cops. Donate to the families affected by this stuff. Revolve, Pretty Little Thing, Fashion Nova. The memes you guys are posting on your pages are just not gonna cut it. Do more. Don’t just be present when it’s time to be lit, on the ‘gram.”
She said she decided to call out these brands specifically because she noticed the aesthetic and the vibe that they have.
BuzzFeed News has reached out to Fashion Nova, Revolve, Pretty Little Thing, and Public Desire for comment.
Aina became the first of many influencers who subsequently began calling out brands who they’ve worked with or are even currently working with.
Alissa Ashley also called out the brands who haven’t been speaking up. She tweeted: “These brands constantly try to be apart of and capitalize off the culture but when real issues arise they are dead silent.”
Makayla London called out Fashion Nova right under a sponsored post she posted last night. She wrote: “Dear @fashionnova, as a brand I signed a long term contract with, advertise and co-sign online, why are you silent during this tragic time in our country? Where is your voice for us when you benefit largely off black influencers?”
Black Twitter began tweeting and commenting on Instagram posts by the brands asking when and if those brands would say something.
Aina responded to one tweet that praised her and said that some of the brands have seen her video critiquing them but ignored the topic. She said: “so there’s no excuse. it’s simply the right thing to do. you lose absolutely nothing contributing to black communities, especially considering how often some of them take.”
Today, some brands did speak up — but not in the way that was expected of them. Both Pretty Little Thing and Public Desire deleted posts that received criticism for the way they were constructed and that were accused of being “tone-deaf.”
Public Desire’s original tribute post to Floyd featured an image edited to include glitter, which drew criticism from people who felt it was done to fit with the company’s Instagram aesthetic.
The edit was created by Sara Shakeel, a crystal artist, who first posted it on her own page. The shoe retailer later deleted the photo and replaced it with an unedited version and apologized to a Twitter user who called them out.
The company tweeted: “We just want to let everyone know that we didn’t mean to offend with our previous post. We’ve acknowledged that this could have been offensive to some. It was an artists work that we felt was a beautiful tribute to George Floyd.”
In a reply to the Twitter user, Public Desire posted this petition, adding that it hadn’t intended to take away from what happened. There’s still no acknowledgment of George Floyd on the company’s main Twitter feed.
Pretty Little Thing posted an image of two people holding hands.
In another tweet, it wrote: “We send our condolences to the families of those tragically and innocently killed and we will do all we can to support the fight against racism. We ask everyone to stand together in this time of need. Let’s fight together, not against each other.”
The tweets left many people confused. The brand deleted the tweets after almost an hour and a half, and there has been nothing posted by the brand since.
Aina updated her followers, sharing that she had been in conversation with Fashion Nova’s CEO and would be following up with the brand.
She responded to criticisms that her campaign was futile, telling her followers: “I cannot fix everything I really can’t, but we can’t deny that the brands I mentioned today are HUGELY influential. That’s why I chose to speak about them today. now I’m waiting to see if they will put their money where their mouths are. This is important to me.”
Similarly, people online have been critical of influencers who have remained silent amid nationwide protesting, particularly those who regularly operate within the black entertainment industry and those who are perceived to have tapped into the culture to build their brand identities.
While some sections of the online community known as Black Twitter called for the input of influencers and brands, others have warned that responses to such demands could end up becoming performative, instead of serving the cause.
Critics pointed out the questionable business practices of some of the brands named, which have come under fire for the working conditions for their employees, their environmental impact, and allegedly ripping off smaller black designers.
Many have taken to the brands’ Instagram comments to let them know that they are disappointed in them and will be returning their items. These are from a Pretty Little Thing Instagram post: