Is there room for my blackness in the fashion industry?

Bonjour,

The fashion industry has held a powerful position in our society not just because it is responsible for clothing

Beyoncé at Coachella or Rihanna at the Met Gala but it is a central voice in the media. For decades it has set the tone for society and been a  gatekeeper of what’s passable. Deciding and dictating what is beautiful and acceptable. Transcending into many beauty standards that are seen in western cultures. This hasn’t always placed black beauty high within it. Naturally being a black man Iv always wondered, until recently, where my blackness fitted into this. Especially, before black was the new orange!

Huge fashion houses and brands have plastered the media with a very western version of beauty for decades. Until diversity has been something which has brought in more revenue by appealing to a wider palette of races and sizes. Iv found my blackness didn’t find a home in this world until recently with other black men such as Virgil Abloh and Edward Enningful gaining such highly respected roles in fashion.

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Many fashion designers have also been known to not hire black models for whatever reasons, maybe the lack of makeup and hair artist who knew what to do with them. Thus leaving out a huge segment of the market. Thankfully my race was represented by the likes Naomi Campbell repping it for the black models. Even since them now we have an array of both female and male black figures in the industry.  For me seeing people who are just like me in so many ways winning has assured me there must be room for my blackness in this industry.
However, at times I have perceived the fashion industry to label and market blackness as exotic to make it more palatable. It has been an industry which has never had an issue loving the music and culture that black people curated, but hasn’t treated the people the same. The notion that people of colour are less than has been deeply embedded in the western psyche, which will only be reinforced again and again through these depictions in the media.
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I don’t for one moment want to sound like I think there is absolutely no room for my blackness in the fashion industry. Because I am very much aware that the industry is attempting to make room for black beauty standards, black talent, and black creatives into the industry. However again it’s to an extent, as the room that I feel there is isn’t as wide as spacious as others. You really have to fight that little bit harder to get many professionals in the industry to take you seriously.

My blackness is not burdening to me in the slightest and I’m so proud of it. Even when the world around has attempted to advise me to whiten it in order to get anywhere. I do dream of the day alike Mather Luther King when my blackness isn’t even part of the equation when it comes to chasing my dreams in fashion. We still have a while to go but every small step is a victory and it warms my heart seeing so many talented people of color dominating fashion. Knowing they have a front seat in this industry shows it’s possible for my blackness to exist harmoniously in the industry.
Signing out Lance the Fashion Guy
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The Move

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