Everlane clothing brand is accused of racism by former employees

They say they "witnessed and experienced anti-Black behavior, prejudice in advancement of Black and POC employees, bullying, (and) racial and heteronormative supremacy..."
"Those who dare speak up about terrible management and frustrations with addressing issues like diversity and representation were subdued with excuses, questioned on their loyalty, and fell victim to retaliation," former employees said in a statement.
"Those who dare speak up about terrible management and frustrations with addressing issues like diversity and representation were subdued with excuses, questioned on their loyalty, and fell victim to retaliation," former employees said in a statement.ex.wives.club/Instagram
/ Source: TODAY

A group of former employees that worked at the sustainable clothing retail brand Everlane is calling for people to boycott the company in the wake of their experiences of racism in the workplace.

The group has taken to social media, calling themselves the "Everlane Ex-Wives Club" and shared a lengthy Google document titled “Everlane’s Convenient Transparency” — aptly named after the company’s own promise of “radical transparency" — outlining numerous displays of racism or micro-aggressions. According to the document, the group is made up of former Black, POC, and white allied employees.

One of the sections detailed a Black woman's experience in which she wrote the chief creative officer, Alexandra Spunt, would plunge her hands into the woman’s hair “pulling at my roots and referring to us being ‘soul sisters.'" Still more shared stories of their creative ideas being stolen by their white colleagues.

Their initial post on Instagram demanded that the company issue an apology by June 25, but a full apology statement from founder and CEO Michael Preysman was posted late Sunday night.

He outlined numerous actions the company plans on taking to address its shortcomings — including anti-racism training, reviewing pay inequities and focusing on a more inclusive company perspective.

“This work starts with me personally examining my own white privilege and how that impacts the culture of the company,” his statement read.

However, the Ex-Wives Club condemned Preysman’s statement this Monday as one “still clearly clouded in avoidant behavior" and said they believed it lacked heart and a plan for action. The group called on shoppers to #BoycottEverlane.

Everlane, which was founded in 2010, is one of many companies that has been accused of discrimination and prejudice. Following the Black Lives Matter protests, clothing companies like Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters have been criticized for using the code word “nicky” or “nick” to profile Black customers.

Dozens of commenters on the post have taken a stand with the boycott. Demands for transparency flooded the comments on Everlane’s company account, to which the company account actually responded with its leadership breakdown on the director level and above. Everlane reported that 8% of their leadership are Black, 76% are women and that there was only one corporate-level executive POC. “We have to do better here,” Everlane wrote.

In the comments, many loyal customers vowed to return their recent purchases. Some said they were looking into other sustainable clothing brands. In an effort to promote other brands, the Ex-Wives Club posted 10 alternative retailers and companies, most of which are women and Black-owned such as Edas, Chelsea Bravo and Mie.

In an email to TODAY Style, Everlane responded to the allegations:

"Everlane does not tolerate racism. We are committed to building a diverse, inclusive, and equitable workplace where all employees are valued and heard. We take any experiences and allegations seriously and investigate every case. We have hired outside counsel to begin an independent and immediate investigation to understand these allegations and conduct a broader audit of our organization. No matter the result, we know as a brand, a company and a country, we have work to do. We are committed to holding ourselves accountable and being an example to our industry and community."

This is not the first time the Everlane has come under fire. After company employees tried to unionize earlier this year, Everlane reportedly fired dozens of customer experience workers, according to other media outlets, and blamed the layoffs on declining sales amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The backlash spurred Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders to tweet.

“Using this health and economic crisis to union bust is morally unacceptable" he posted. "I’m calling on @Everlane to bring workers back on payroll and recognize the @EverlaneU.”

But the Ex-Wives Club made it clear that even though they "stand in solidarity with" the Everlane Union, they are a separate entity.

“Everlane broke us. Our spirit, our bodies, and our ideas were considered for their cache and cultural value,” the document reads. “Our psyche was manipulated to fall in line with a greenwashed version of sustainability as we ourselves worked unsustainably just to be seen and acknowledged for our contributions while watching our white counterparts advance."