Leading figures in the fashion industry including supermodels Bar Refaeli and Erin O’Connor, designers Donna Karan and Christopher Kane and the former editor of Vogue International have come together to call on the sector to take a strong stand against the open rise of anti-Jewish sentiment since the October 7 terror attacks.
More than 1,000 people working in the industry, from models and designers to agents, stylists, journalists and influencers, have signed the Fashion Against Antisemitism letter in light of the exponential rise in antisemitic incidents across the globe.
Suzy Menkes, one of the best-known fashion journalists in the world, who edited Vogue International for six years until 2020 is joined by British Fashion Council CEO Caroline Rush CBE and a slew of high-profile signatories including designer Donna Karan; makeup mogul Bobbi Brown; and musicians Jessie Ware and Noa Kirel.
Designer and creative director Deborah Lyons, who coordinated the letter, said: "Fashion has always had the power to celebrate diversity and inclusivity, but it is disheartening to witness acts of discrimination and antisemitism within our industry. Antisemitism, in any form, is inexcusable in an industry that thrives on creativity and acceptance. We must take a stand.
“Within three days of the October 7 terror attack, I lost 1,000 followers because I posted about releasing hostages and calling for peace. But it did not stop there, I have received messages saying I should go back to Germany and be killed. I, like so many people in the Jewish community, know people in Israel affected by the Hamas attack, including people who have had to leave their homes because or rocket attacks, or whole families that have been wiped out. It’s heartbreaking.”
The letter calls on fashion companies and organisations to implement regular mandatory diversity sensitivity training for all employees, from designers to executives, with the aim of fostering "a deeper understanding of different cultures and religions, including Judaism”.
It adds: "Fashion companies should denounce any acts of antisemitism and take swift and decisive action against individuals or brands that perpetuate such behaviour."
Menkes said: “The creative industries must be at all costs be free. Free from hate speech. From any attempt to influence evil; from any excuse of encouraging wicked thoughts in a whisper or a shout. There is no excuse".
Last week, the Community Security Trust (CST) revealed that from October 7, when Hamas invaded Israel to October 31, it recorded 893 antisemitic incidents across the UK. This is the highest ever total reported to CST across a 25-day period since the group began recording incidents in 1984.
The Metropolitan Police observed a 1,353% increase in antisemitic offences from 1 October to 18 October compared to the same period in 2022, with some 218 anti-Jewish hate crimes recorded by the force in that timeframe.
In the US, the number of antisemitic incidents recorded spiked 388 per cent in the weeks following the Hamas terror attacks, according to the Anti-Defamation League.
In a statement released on Sunday, the European Commission said: “The spike of antisemitic incidents across Europe has reached extraordinary levels in the last few days, reminiscent of some of the darkest times in history.
“European Jews today are again living in fear.”