It’s no secret that the fashion industry has struggled with inclusivity and diversity for a long time. It’s with this in mind that we’re launching our Changes series, which will give voice to underrepresented groups on the changes they’d like to see in their industry. Today, on the last day of Black History Month, we’re passing the microphone to some of the most influential black stylists, photographers, writers, models, designers, and style consultants.
From the glossy pages of magazines to the runway, women and men of color like myself have never been fully represented in the fashion industry. Beyond the visual clues of inclusivity, historically, rarely do we hold a seat at the table or power behind the scenes. On the off chance we do make it to the table, we often find ourselves tokenized and expected to speak on the behalf of the experiences of all people of color. With the industry continuing to release insensitive designs and send uninformed tweets, we have to ask ourselves: What do we do? What changes can be made to make the fashion world represent the real world?
That’s not to say that things aren’t slowly changing. The S/S 19 runways were the most diverse ever, and Rihanna’s Fenty empire is powerfully demonstrating the capital power of communities of color. But since we can’t leave everything up to Rihanna (though that doesn’t sound so bad), we asked 33 black experts across the industry about what changes they want to see. Of course, they can’t speak to every problem in the industry, and it’s not the job of people of color to solve the issues of inclusivity. Rather I see today’s conversation as a jumping-off point for deciding, designing, and dreaming what the future of the fashion industry looks like through the unique lens of the black perspective.