Lucy & Yak Brand Statement – 22nd September 2020

Following our recent posts regarding a podcast that we recorded on size inclusivity, we were addressed by many members of our community and the wider public regarding our lack of size inclusivity as a brand. You asked that we be held accountable for this, and that we make concrete commitments to doing the necessary work to make Lucy & Yak a brand where everyone is represented and empowered.

Our initial reaction to this was one of defensiveness and lack of understanding. Furthermore, our response demonstrated a lack of the accountability that you, quite rightly, called for.

Over the past several days, we have taken time to reflect on your feedback and to address the uncomfortable truths that we were initially afraid to sit with. We have listened to feedback from our wider team, who were also impacted by our actions.

We wanted to share an open and transparent statement that addresses our stance on the key issues of the wider discussion(s), and establishes concrete commitments for each with dedicated, achievable timeframes where possible.

We appreciate that this statement may not be conclusive or exhaustive for some members of the community. We also appreciate that this statement will take a great deal of time to digest in its entirety for those who choose to read it. We’d like to thank everyone making time in order to read or engage with this statement in any capacity.

We reject any form of hate speech and abuse

Due to our actions, there have been a lot of damaging and problematic comments made and directed at individuals across our communities on various social platforms. As a team and a company, we do not tolerate any form of racism, bigotry and hate speech.

Many individuals have experienced online abuse as result of this discussion. This must stop. Please do not direct your comments at any individuals involved in this on this page or their own; they do not owe anyone an explanation or their time. This is on us. Our defensiveness in our immediate reaction allowed some of our community to defend us in ways which were hurtful, problematic, and overall, not constructive. We appreciate that many of our community sent words of support that came from a good place, but we need to be held accountable when we’ve done wrong, as we have here. We now understand that being ethical relies on full accountability.

We always strive to create a safe and positive place where healthy debate and engagement can happen. We cannot allow abusive or threatening speech or writing that expresses prejudice against a particular group – this is wrong, harmful and deeply upsetting to all involved. If this continues, any member perpetuating this will be blocked and removed.

Action: Our commitment to creating a safe space

  • Our intention is to put people above profit and nurture spaces where everyone is welcome, respected, and celebrated. We recognise that we have not done enough to ensure that our community are safe, and we have a responsibility to do more.
  • We commit to creating a safe space for all individuals and marginalised people on the official and unofficial platforms that represent our brand. We are in the process of reviewing how we can do that more effectively.
  • In the past month, we have grown our Customer Happiness team from 3 to 5 people and have structured a rota that ensures a representative is available and monitoring our comments between 8am-8pm Monday-Friday and 10am-6pm Saturdays and Sundays (GMT).
  • We will be putting in additional internal training and development on various social issues, starting with anti-racism and fatphobia as a priority. In this way we hope to ensure that we can continue to educate ourselves, become effective advocates and always challenge ourselves to do better.

Accountability for our lack of size inclusivity

You, as our community, have spent time commenting, sending us DM's and e-mailing customer services, asking when a greater option of larger sizes would be available.

We did not consider this a priority for our business at the time; instead we focused on our factory supply chains, growing the team and invested time in extending the range of categories instead.

By choosing to prioritise other parts of the business, we now recognise this as harmful behaviour that perpetuates a fatphobic discourse within the fashion industry and within our brand.

While we extended our size range from size 6-22 this year, we acknowledge that we did not address extending our size range fully and we should have addressed this much earlier. We know this has disappointed many people and we apologise for this.

Since we launched in 2017, we have grown very fast. While we still saw ourselves as a small brand and team, we recognise now that we are no longer a start-up and our mindset must change on this. The Lucy & Yak team extends beyond its founders, and our initial reaction, and the manner in which we published it, did not acknowledge this or take the wider team and their well-being into consideration; this too was harmful and for that, we apologise.

Being held accountable is not equivalent to being cancelled. Being ethical and sustainable is a process which involves the whole team, and we know we still have a lot of work to do. 

We have always tried to create an environment and culture where we hold ourselves accountable and try to do better all the time. We know that we will make mistakes and won’t always get it right.

We failed to do better with this.

We were defensive and did not acknowledge this fully, and our fear of the fallout prevented us from seeing clearly that we were wrong. This fear also impacted our ability to deal with said fallout. We know that we have hurt and alienated people who have invested in our brand emotionally and financially over the past few years. We recognise that in some cases it will take a long time to rebuild the trust that has been lost, and that in other cases that trust has been lost indefinitely.

Thank you for being there, willing to share your opinion with us and holding us accountable.

We know we need to better and we will.

Why we chose to create a podcast episode on size inclusivity

Earlier this year, we recognised that our current size range was not good enough for an ethical business that believes in empowering its whole community. This summer, as part of our Inclusivity Advisory Panel, we committed to working with a size-inclusive brand consultant and fashion designer in order to support the development of our size range beyond size 22.

Action: Our commitment to increasing our size range

As part of the Inclusivity Advisory Panel, we are working with a size inclusivity consultant and fashion designer to help us develop and extend our sizing range.

We have already employed a specialist Garment Technologist, who will be joining our Buying team by the end of September 2020. Their work will focus on expanding our size ranges beyond a UK size 22 in 2021.

We are working on confirming the timeline of increasing our size range. We will be announcing soon the complete size range that we will be expanding to. We work to 7-month lead times and want to ensure we maintain the integrity of our supply chain process. We will share more news on launch dates in the coming months.

Recognising consultancy and emotional labour

We apologise for the hurt and damage that we have caused to Aja Barber and everyone else who has been similarly affected by our actions. We want to respect her boundaries of not wanting to engage with us privately or work together, and we urge our community to respect the space that Aja holds for herself online or otherwise.

We understand that we have failed to recognise professional advice and emotional labour. We should have been more aware and respectful of advice, skill and knowledge that we received, and we should have better distinguished between professional advice and customer feedback.

We should have made this distinction and addressed it sooner. Thank you for holding us accountable and asking us to do better. We will take better ownership of this and ensure a full distinction is clearly made from the onset.

Going forward, we will also ensure that we ask permission before re-sharing others’ content that features our products, regardless of their usage. We recognise that we have previously overlooked the importance of this, and of recognising boundaries within our community.

We wish to make an additional apology to anyone we have collaborated with, including our models, artists, contributors, and creators. We appreciate that our actions have put you in a difficult position and that you may feel that you are unable to work with us again in the future. We want you to know that we wholeheartedly respect your decision, and we will give you the space and time that you need in order to process recent events and their fallout. Thank you for your time, efforts, and labours of love over the years.

Our commitment to establishing our Advisory Panel

  • Earlier this summer, we shared with you that we have committed to creating an Advisory Panel made up of expert representatives from various industry sectors to work with us on sustainability, ethics, diversity and inclusivity. We are part-way through the process of assembling the panel, and this will be fully in place in our business by the end of October 2020.
  • This is an advisory panel (paid positions) made up of individuals who are able to authentically and openly discuss topics regarding race, inclusivity, diversity, ethics and sustainability with an intersectional lens. We will be working with the panel on a monthly basis long term to discuss important topics and our initiatives to ensure all voices are heard.
  • This will also address external communications, production/manufacture and HR, recruitment, internal training and development.
  • As a brand we strive for transparency. We want to use our voice effectively and responsibly to be vocal on topics we are passionate about.
  • We commit to continuing to challenge ourselves to do better and want to ensure we can firmly build this into the fabric of the company and our teams as we continue to grow.

Our commitment to listening

  • We know we don't have all the answers yet. We are still learning and listening – we have said this before and will continue to do so. We don’t have all the answers yet, but we commit to doing better.
  • If you have any feedback for us or want to get in touch about paid opportunities, please contact us at hello@lucyandyak.com
  • This is not a definitive plan; this is just the start and we will be sharing more about our commitment and actions as they are implemented and developed.