This year, the U.S. national theme for Black History Month was “Resistance.” A&F Co. followed suit by observing and reflecting on the topic of resistance with a lineup of programs, culminating in our marquee event, “Black Excellence Beyond the Resistance.”
First, our BIPOC and Allies Associate Resource Group (ARG) kicked off the month by holding their first meeting of the year, in person and virtually. Attendees celebrated Black History Month, learned how to get involved with the ARG through an introduction to the different sub-committees’ latest initiatives, and were also introduced to the newest member of A&F Co.’s growing I&D team.
We introduced Volume 28, Abercrombie’s newest recurring collection created by our BIPOC designers. The purpose of the collection is to amplify Black voices and culture beyond Black History Month—because the 28 days of February are not enough. Volume 28 designers had the opportunity to share more about the collection at a recent all-company meeting. Johnathan Powell, Associate Merchant, talked about challenging old ways of thinking: “Pushing boundaries is never easy, but this collection is a testament to how it’s possible.”
Sierra Robinson, Associate Designer, hopes the collection resonates with the customer. “They were at the forefront of our minds when we were designing this. I hope our Black customers feel seen by the product.
The kids’ collection, Vol. 28: Growth, launched earlier in February. The Abercrombie product launches in a few weeks, with additional drops throughout the year.
Furthermore, we partnered with Midwest Kids founder, Darryl Brown, to bring a collegiate-inspired spring ’23 collection to life, our Hollister X Midwest Kids collaboration. We were thrilled to host Darryl in a meet and greet event with associates at our Global Home Office and Hollister locations in Ohio (Easton Town Center and Franklin Park Mall) for special release events. He met with associates and customers to talk about the collection – the purpose, inspiration, and journey.
The second week of Black History Month brought us an informative webinar with COQUAL, a global nonprofit conducting research on diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace. Associates were presented insights from COQUAL’s groundbreaking report, “Being Black in Corporate America” as well as their recent study on Being Black in the U.K. Our participants were able to learn and walk away with key actions to support the work in the inclusion and diversity space.
During the third week of February, a group of associates attended the 2023 United Negro College Fund (UNCF) Mayor’s Luncheon in Columbus. This was the largest of all UNCF luncheons with President of Lane College, , as the keynote speaker.
A&F Co. is a Silver Partner of UNCF, and we believe this partnership is more than a donation—it’s an investment in education. We’re grateful to our associates for attending important events like the Mayor’s Luncheon in order to represent what matters to our company.
And finally, we wrapped up our Black History Month celebrations with the virtual marquee event, “Black Excellence Beyond the Resistance.” Over 100 associates tuned in to hear keynote speaker, CarolineINSPIRES, as she motivated us through song and spoken word. Caroline, a cross-cultural influencer, educator, philanthropist and artist, gave a powerful performance about the importance of unapologetically celebrating Blackness.
Attendees of the event were also treated to an engaging dialogue between a panel of Black associates. They discussed a range of topics such as how they’ve recognized and challenged imposter syndrome in the workplace, as well as their proudest moments professionally and personally.
Panelists were also asked what advice they’d give about overcoming adversity. Olivia Moore (Assistant Brand Strategist) recommended that people learn to ask for help. “Sometimes, honestly, it’s really hard to do. But when you do that—and I have done that here—it creates a space of coming to each other as people.”
Nyika White (Supervisor of Operations) emphasized the importance of representing yourself fully. “Leave no doubt that you are capable. Leave no doubt that you are the one that needs to be in that position.”
Johanna Joseph (I&D Manager, Stores and DC) wrapped up the panel with insightful words about the importance of being there for each other. “We do a lot to lift ourselves up, right? But…you don’t need to be a hero. We’re not supposed to save the world, right? We’re not supposed to do things alone.”
We thank our entire A&F Co. community for coming together this past month to listen, learn and uplift. We know the work is never done, and we’re grateful to our I&D team for continuing to create space for us to learn, take action, and celebrate each other.