Australian fashion label Zimmermann has issued a response after receiving allegations of racial discrimination.
Last week, the company took to social media to address the recent protests in the United States in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
The brand shared a quote by Desmond Tutu alongside a lengthy statement, which ended with a call for unity against victims of racism.
“The tragic recent events in America have been heartbreaking to witness from here at home in Australia. But of course, these are not just American issues - racism and discrimination continue to exist in our communities regardless of where we live...,” the caption read.
“We must continue to act beyond our words to demand equality, embrace love, act with fairness and engender respect for all. We stand in support of the victims of racism everywhere.”
The post received multiple comments from users who claim to have experienced discrimination both as an employee and as a patron of Zimmermann stores.
A former Zimmerman intern said she witnessed a Zimmermann employee call a black model a racial slur back in 2019.
She alleges that instead of reprimanding the employee, Zimmermann fired the model when she tried to defend herself to the employee.
Another woman also shared a separate derogatory exchange she allegedly experienced at a Zimmermann store.
Zimmerman responded to the comments, confirming that the brand was made aware of the racist exchange in 2019.
“As a brand we believe in values of honesty, integrity, respect and equality,” the response from the Zimmermann account read.
“We confirm that the issue you have raised was brought to our attention in early 2019, and after investigation it led to the immediate termination of a contractor to our business for breaches of our company policies.”
Fashion watchdog account Diet Prada shared the comments and shared leaked images from the brand’s employee manual section entitled: “Grooming and Presentation Standards.”
The guide featured several reference photos for employees that featured caucasian models and famous faces like Gigi and Bella Hadid and Olivia Palermo.
“Hair can be worn in soft textured loose waves, or blow dried straight with a centre or side part. If worn up there are to be no high buns, top knots, plaits, braids or ponytails worn on top of the head,” the guide stated. “Only a polished ponytail can be worn on the floor; it can be worn low to mid with a part or no part.”
The brand also included a “visual guide” for employee-makeup which provided suggested products and instructed employees “not to come to work without makefashup on.”
According to Marie-Claude Mallat, Zimmermann’s public relations director, the guide shared by Diet Prada has not been used for the past 12 months.
Earlier this week, Zimmermann issued a separate statement to social media.
“We have taken time and reflected on how we can do more to educate our teams, build on our diversity and advance equality in our organisation,” it read.
“We have listened and heard your voices and are focusing on how we can be a force for positive change as we look to the future. We must do better, we must do more,” the company said.
Zimmermann pledged that they would work to reinforce a zero-tolerance policy for racism or discrimination in the workplace, focus on diversity and inclusion across all levels of the company and create an in-house diversity and inclusion team for employees, provide diversity training for Zimmermann teams and ensure diversity in brand campaigns.
The brand also announced a donation to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund as well as Aboriginal Legal Service in Australia which provides legal representation and services to Indigenous peoples.
“We will continue to listen to our teams, clients and community to learn from them and their experiences, and promise to do more,” the brand concluded.
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