As anyone even vaguely familiar with the fashion industry can tell you that the September issues are a big deal. This year, however, the usual fanfare upon the debut of the September covers was doubled by the fact that an unprecedented, groundbreaking number of glossies feature women of color—from Beyoncé fronting US Vogue to Ruth Negga on Marie Claire UK. While many are hailing the covers as the dawn of a new age of racial equality, others are not as convinced. Over the last few weeks, individuals and influencers alike have taken to social media to express disappointment over how the industry marketed their WOC cover stars as responses to a social trend. Blogger Kemi Akinboyewa, in particular, called out major brands for “still not representing black women or women of colour,” and insisted that “There’s a far way to go until there is genuine representation and diversity” in fashion.
For further reading:
It’s no secret that cultural appropriation is a huge issue in the fashion industry. Read here about the struggle for women of color to find work in fashion even while major trends riff off of their cultural backgrounds.
Think about the role of tokenism when it comes to representing minority communities—particularly in image-driven industries like fashion. How do you think it can be avoided? How would you advise, say, the editor-in-chief of US Vogue to more forward?
Ever noticed that most of the models, editors, and bloggers promoted by the mainstream media are white? Add some diversity to your feed by supporting the efforts of WOC—think Elaine Welteroth, Shiona Turini, and Freddie Harrel—who are absolutely killing the game.