#QuiltDialogues: Debra Langley on Women in Fashion
After speaking to filmmaker Deepa Mehta about women in films on the occasion of International Women’s Day 2021, we turned to Debra Langley, Venture Partner at Lyra Ventures (and another one of our amazing advisors) to learn more about women in fashion.
Quilt.AI team: What does it mean to be a woman in the fashion industry in 2021?
Debra: To be a woman in fashion in 2021 is to be witness to the reinvention of an industry. For decades, fashion was plagued by inefficiencies and waste. And to some extent found it difficult to get out of its own way to innovate. But over the past year, the fashion industry has been completely upended. And we are finally being catapulted into the digital era. As a result, there's a bright light being shown on fashion tech, innovation, new solutions, new platforms, new products. Many of these initiatives are being led by women entrepreneurs, or women are key members of the founding team. As this digitalization has accelerated, new roles and functions have also emerged and proliferated. And these represent entirely new paths into the industry that many women are taking.
Quilt.AI team: Could you elaborate on the new roles and functions that have emerged?
Debra: We are now looking for data scientists, for AI trends analysts, for 3D designers and creators of XR and Avatar experiences. We're looking for game designers and developers. We're looking for content and social commerce creators, for alternative materials scientists, and for manufacturing supply chain and logistics innovations and on and on. Including roles not yet fully scoped because technology is throwing out new opportunities very fast. But all these areas are where our focus is now in order to ensure future success, and all these areas represent great opportunities for women.
But even as we relish all these new developments, we still need to keep front and center the important conversation about the actual benefits of diversity. Because we still want to see more women on boards, more women in leadership, and more women building incredible solutions and products. Research has shown over and over that diverse executive teams outperform others on multiple measures, including that important one of profitability. So let's keep talking about that. At the same time, as we scrutinize our leadership teams, we have to bear in mind what's happening upstream, where 80% of the millions of garment workers around the world are women. We need to ensure their fair and equitable treatment. Because success there means success for the industry with its sustainability agenda.
Quilt.AI team: What can we do to ensure women can live fulfilling (professional) lives?
Debra: Each of us can identify roles and opportunities where we can recommend a great female candidate, who should be hired not because she's a woman, but because she brings the absolute best credentials for the job. And we can start that today, and we can do that tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that. Choose to challenge.