'No matter what you do, it's political': Chromat founder Becca McCharen-Tran

(L to R) Jennifer DaSilva, Rebecca Minkoff, Kimberly Jenkins and Becca McCharen-Tran
(L to R) Jennifer DaSilva, Rebecca Minkoff, Kimberly Jenkins and Becca McCharen-Tran

The designer joined a panel of women to dissect what brands can do to further equality.

Women drive 85 percent of consumer decisions and too many brands are still not thinking female when developing their product.

Chromat isn’t one of them.

The New York City-based fashion label is leading the charge in the fight for greater equality.

"I remember five years ago we always had plus-sized models on the Chromat runways, but we finally launched a curve collection and none of our buyers were interested," said the brand’s founder, Becca McCharen-Tran on International Women’s Day at SXSW in Austin, Texas. "Fast-forward and now we have a big plus-size category in Nordstrom. It’s been an exciting ride."

McCharen-Tran was joined by Jennifer DaSilva, president at Berlin Cameron, Kimberly Jenkins, professor at Parsons School of Design, and fashion-label founder Rebecca Minkoff.

"I want everyone with an open platform to recognize that you have this platform and no matter what you do, it is political," McCharen-Tran continued. "If you cast all white models -- that’s political. If you cast for diversity, that’s political too.

"I think a lot of white people don’t think of themselves as being political because they’re just status-quo, and recognizing the fact that you have a choice is really important. We all need to take a stand."

McCharen-Tran stressed Chromat is driving diversity "not to get more money and not to get more customers -- but because this is the world we want to envision for ourselves."

She added: "Because of that, there’s a strong personal connection a lot of people have with the brand because they see themselves in Chromat."

Minkoff said she started to notice greater awareness of a lack of female leaders and equality about five years ago when people kept asking what it’s like to be a female founder.

"I didn’t identify with my gender first when I launched a company," she explained. "But as I began to look across the landscape I realized there’s not enough of us. That’s a problem. So it’s important if I have this mouthpiece to make sure that we talk about it and foster more female leaders."

Berlin Cameron’s president laid out what brands everywhere can do from today to help further equality.

DaSilvia said: "Everyone is tweeting and sharing moments about the wonderful women in their lives, which is amazing -- but what are the ways we can really support women? One: we can pay them equally and fairly. Two: we can hire them, especially at a senior leadership level. Three: we can support organizations doing this and uplift them and be educated by them."

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