Boho Brand Zimmermann's Leaked Staff 'Grooming Guide' Blasted As Racially Discriminatory & Pro-White
High-end Aussie fashion label Zimmerman is making headlines after its internal ‘Grooming and Presentation Standards’ guide was leaked. In the staff doc, which details how employees are expected to look while on the shop floor, not a single Black person is featured among the aspirational images. Reference shots include pics of models and influencers Olivia Palermo, and Gigi Hadid and Bella Hadid.
The guide, shared by Instagram's fashion watchdog Diet Prada this week features expensive makeup products "aimed at achieving a glow like Romee Strijd or Candace Swanepoel," and strict hair-styling rules that state “no high buns, top knots, plaits, braids; or ponytails worn high on top of the head,” to be allowed.
Ponytails must be polished, and hair worn long must be blow-dried or curled/styled. Under these rules, a Black employee would find it impossible to wear their hair naturally.
@zimmermann , another likely fave of Boho Karens worldwide, is under fire after throwing their hat into the performative allyship ring. As multiple former interns came forward with their experiences facing and witnessing anti-Black discrimination at the company, a telling brand guideline was leaked. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In the “Grooming & Presentation Standards” portion of the retail employee manual, Black women are completely absent in favor of the likes of Olivia Palermo and various VS angels. This is actually an updated edition—the photos of Asian models were added only after employees raised complaints about its lack of diversity. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ The makeup portion features an exhaustive list of beauty products aimed at achieving a glow like Romee Strijd or Candace Swanepoel, but the hair section is where things get really problematic. By specifying that hair must be “soft, textured loose waves, or blow-dried straight”, while prohibiting “high buns, top knots, plaits, braids”, the language seems worded in a way to make it incredibly difficult for any Black employees to wear their hair natural or in accordance to their cultural identity. Ex-employees say this version of the guide circulated up until Sept. 2019. For reference, the NYC Commission on Human Rights issued new guidelines in Feb. 2019, stating that the targeting of people based on their hair or hairstyle will be considered racial discrimination. An updated version specified that hair could be worn in its natural state, but still prohibited buns, knots, and braids. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ In comments on the brand's post, former intern @desireejcelestin describes a high-level employee mocking a Black model’s hair, comparing it to a dust bunny she picked up off the floor. The model complained to her agency, and was temporarily dismissed until her agent resolved the issue. Zimmermann requested the model apologize. Other Black interns also came forward saying they weren’t allowed to attend the runway show because they “didn’t understand the brand”, while others attended. ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ There's a slight silver lining to these hollow posts though—they’re exposing myriad injustices POC face in an industry that seems more rotten day by day. •
Ex-employees said this version of the guide was circulated internally until September 2019, when the NYC Commission on Human Rights issued new guidelines in February 2019 stating that targeting people based on their hair could be considered racial discrimination. The updated version specified hair could be worn natural, but buns, knots and braids still weren’t allowed.
The guidelines published by Diet Prada also suggest employees should use certain pricey makeup brands – think NARS and Hourglass – which would immediately exclude those with less disposable income, or at least serve to make those employees feel lesser than.
Of course, the story doesn't end with this problematic and exclusionary eurocentric grooming guidelines, either. A former intern, Desiree Celestin, has alleged that a high-level employee had once mocked a Black model’s hair, comparing it to a dust bunny she’d picked up off the floor. Another former intern Maci Marie Bourgeois claims that her hair was compared to a “furry scarf” during her time at Zimmermann. Other reports have it that several POC interns have alleged that they had not been allowed to attend runway shows because they “didn’t understand the brand,” while white interns did attend shows regularly.
Racism has long been an issue in the fashion industry. Last year, Balmain closed out Couture Week in Paris with a show that featured Black models wearing ebony-coloured makeup. The same year, Gucci released a jumper featuring blackface. You can read more about those incidents and others here.
Main Image Credit: Zimmermann
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