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Column: The Serial Shopper: Ebony Money is Just as Green

The Serial Shopper

The Serial Shopper is Salute Magazine’s new weekly column authored by Fashion Editor Money Jensen. The Serial Shopper is a weekly look into the mind of our quirky and eclectic Fashion Editor and her thoughts on the state of the fashion industry, fashion influencers, and controversial topics within.

The decade we live in is truly a unique one. The world is more diverse than it has ever been, technology is in a place that was only dreamed about fifty years ago, but some of the worst human habits remain in us. Prejudice is something that we as humans are smart enough to be evolved from by now. But in America, and in many places around the world, old habits die hard. If you haven’t heard, one of the mother three brands, Chanel, issued an apology to actress Gabourey Sidibe after one of their sales associates treated her like trash off of the street who was unworthy of shopping there.

According to Sidibe on Producer Jenni Konner‘s blog Lenny Letter, she was dressed in fur, and even WEARING a vintage CHANEL bag, and STILL got this treatment from the sales associate. This happens all the time, in various stores of different brands across America and the world and it boggles the mind. Chanel released this statement:

Chanel expresses our sincerest regret for the boutique customer service experience that Ms. Sidibe mentioned in this essay. We are sorry that she felt unwelcome and offended.

We took her words very seriously and immediately investigated to understand what happened, knowing that this is absolutely not in line with the high standards that Chanel wishes to provide to our customers.

We are strongly committed to provide anyone who comes in our boutiques with the best customer service, and we do hope that in the future Ms. Sidibe will choose to come back to a Chanel boutique and experience the real Chanel customer experience.

I have seen Caucasian women walk into luxury boutiques in sweatpants and a hoodie to casually browse, as they should be allowed to, get treated like a French duchess and me, carrying a $500 vintage bag at a lower end store get followed by security and watched like a hawk.

Let me be clear, I am not here to diss brands, but I will also be clear, we as humans need to demand respect from all businesses who are selling a good, ESPECIALLY luxury businesses.

I know that I am not the only person this has happened to clearly, but the fact that we are still going through this in 2017 is deplorable. You never know what someone else has in their bank account, and you never know who someone is, or who they know as a sales person. This is why responsible sales people treat everyone with the same level of respect. It makes me wonder, what will it take for people to realize that our money is just as green?

The worst part about this is, Gabourey was exactly right to snap off online the way she did because she could have bought everything in that store. More to the point, she is in the cast of one of the biggest shows on television where there is a predominantly black cast and audience, A show which fashion IS one of the characters.

Television, music, sports, social media stars and political figures of color all drive brand sales. If they did not, brands like J. Crew wouldn’t have had their website server crash after Sasha and Malia Obama wore their clothing to their father’s inauguration. If we didn’t drive sales, designers wouldn’t go out of their way to dress singers like Beyoncè. So, for people of color to be disrespected on a daily basis by employees of brands like this, whether instructed to or not, is not okay.

Gabourey questioned whether or not she should fill out her customer service survey and possibly get the woman fired, even after being treated so harshly, she still has a heart. This may sound petty… but I do not.

Just as we do with children, reprimanding this type of behavior teaches a lesson. ALL people that walk into your store should be treated with the utmost respect not matter their race.

If we have the cash to spend, it is just as good as anyone else’s. If you do not realize that fact and decide we aren’t “worthy” of the brand that is paying you a salary to SELL their products, well maybe you should be fired. Maybe then people will realize we are all equal and beholden to a higher standard of basic respect.

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