The results are clear. Companies increased the diversity of skin tones in their Instagram posts, following their mid-2020 pledges to support Black Lives Matter and, in particular, commitment to improving representation. However, it is also clear that those increases were often only marginal.
For all of our readers, we visualized the data we collected for nine of 34 brands. Exclusively for Quartz members, here are the data and visualizations for every brand we analyzed, representing a selection of companies across different segments of the fashion and beauty industries.
We reached out to every company for comment. For those that replied, their responses are included below.
Beauty brands improved their skin tone diversity very little
More than two years ago, Sephora made a commitment, built on the values that have always guided our organization, to create a community that is welcoming, considerate, respectful, and inclusive for all. This includes actions and commitments from the past several years to ensure every individual in our beauty community sees themselves and their experiences reflected in our brand imagery.
Instagram is a platform that not only showcases Sephora-owned content, but it also serves as a space to amplify the work of our diverse brand partners. While we’ve made progress, our brand imagery work is ongoing. We also believe that truly diverse representation encompasses a multitude of characteristics, including body types, hair textures, ethnicity, age, gender identity, and sexual orientation, as well as skin tone. To further our efforts, we recently created an action plan, based on our diversity, equity, and inclusion strategies, and the findings of the first-of-its-kind Racial Bias in Retail Study, to mitigate bias across all aspects of our organization and one of our primary focuses is to ensure continued progress in the diversity and representation in our marketing and merchandising. We look forward to sharing our progress, achieving our long-term goals and driving meaningful change across the beauty industry.
Response from the Estée Lauder Companies, which owns MAC Cosmetics and Estée Lauder
Our collective vision is for The Estée Lauder Companies brands to be the most inclusive, equitable, and diverse beauty company in the world, and to be both the employer of choice for diverse talent and the brands of choice for diverse consumers. While we feel the data used in this study is not fully representative and inclusive of our brands’ efforts around diversity and racial equity, we are deeply committed to being representative of all our consumers and are receptive to any feedback that helps us achieve that vision.
L’Oréal’s response was on behalf of all their brands, which include L’Oréal Paris, Maybelline, and NYX Professional Makeup:
We are committed to increasing inclusion of all forms and dimensions of diversity across our portfolio of 35 beauty brands, including marketing images that represent a full spectrum of identities and skin, hair, and body types. Celebrating and showcasing the rich diversity of beauty expressions has been a part of our company’s Beauty for All mission for more than fifteen years, and this mission inspires all of our brands to drive continuous progress.
Luxury fashion had some of the best and worst performing brands
LVMH, the parent of Luis Vuitton, Dior, and Celine, declined to comment.
Chanel declined to comment.
Versace declined to comment.
Overall, mass market fashion brands had the darkest median skin tones
Gap’ Inc. the parent company of Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy, provided Quartz with an interview, the result of which was included in the original story.
At Everlane, we’re committed to creating the kind of culture where diverse perspectives flourish and people feel they truly belong. One of the many ways we are working to achieve this is through representation. We are focused on ensuring there is deeper BIPOC representation in our creative work and are committed to better celebrating diversity through our actions and images. This is inclusive of not only diversity in casting, but consideration at all levels, from our vendors to creative partners.
Tommy Hilfiger’s response
Our brand has stood for inclusion and diversity since the beginning. That welcoming spirit continues to guide our approach in partnerships, collaborations, and campaign development. We have been more intentional in our commitment, and work to achieve true representation since Tommy’s call to action last year. We recognize there are areas we can and will do more as a brand, including through our Make it Possible sustainability program and vision to create fashion that Wastes Nothing and Welcome All, as well as initiatives such as our People’s Place Program where we have clearly defined goals and steps to empower the BIPOC community in the fashion and creative industries.
Premium brands improved, with the exception of Polo Ralph Lauren
At Reformation, we’re building a company that prioritizes belonging and empowerment. Over the past year, we’ve continued to evolve our imagery across our social platforms and website so that our brand reflects a broader and more diverse representation of our community. We are aware of the different shades of color of all our customers as well as the vast variation of skin tones within the Black community. While no one image reflects everyone we will continue to make our best efforts to reflect that diversity throughout our collective images. In addition to increasing Black representation, we’re also focused on including Asian, Indigenous, Latinx, and other underrepresented minorities in our creative. We’re dedicated to doing the work to make Reformation a more inclusive brand and to ensuring that our imagery accurately reflects this.