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The Black Exclusion In Mainstream Fashion

french vogueI had to write this blog to give a different perspective of self responsibility and to shout it to Black people & people of color that our power & self worth is not determined by inclusion in the mainstream or what White people think of us. Even though I really did not want to give any more press or credence to French Vogue’s “black face issue” or the continual absence of Black models on the runways of major designers during fashion week, too many people, especially Black people have been stepping right in to give them the hype, press & attention they were looking for in an era of slow selling mainstream magazines & slower selling luxury designer threads seeking controversy to make them relevant.

From The Daily News to every fashion blogger globally, the talk seems to be about French Vogue’s super models issue which did not feature any Black supermodels, yet it had the audacity to feature Dutch model, Lara Stone, in black face, along with the endless fashion week runway shows from New York to Europe with little to no models of color gracing the runways of fashion’s elite designers. Without the outrage very few of these magazines would have been sold and many of these designers would have gotten lack luster press to match some of their lack luster collections fantasizing about African & Black cultural esthetics. The French Vogue issue to me was obviously for provocation because they already pulled the stunt of dedicating a whole issue of Vogue Italia showcasing only Black models, which we as Black people made all the rage & the top selling issue of Vogue Italia’s history, in our false sense of being included in an industry that has told us for centuries that we are not their target market until those special issues & occasions when there is money to be made. If we really want to make a statement then let Rihanna, Jay Z, Beyonce, Oprah & the Halle Berry’s of the world stop doing their covers & endorsing their products until they start being genuinely inclusionary & representations of the so called post racial era of Obama.

Why are we always playing into these stunts & demanding inclusion & apologies instead of raising the bar to a point where they are begging for inclusion in magazines which specifically cater to us, the inspiration behind most of their styles. African & Black culture has always been at one time or the other the inspiration for countless mainstream fashion collections without ever having representation in the outcome of what they inspire. There are tons of designers of color creating brilliant fashion on a global level yet very few know about them, particularly women of color who spend millions of $ on fashion annually, because magazines like Essence, Vibe, Honey etc. would rather feature Louis Vuitton, Dior, Chanel & all those other designers who we always claim exclude us. If called out on it or asked why – these magazines that are supposed to be multi-culti or afrocentric will probably give a lame excuse like “we feature those designers because that is who our readers like or see as aspirational”. Well guess what, that’s the same excuse that the mainstream magazines & designers give as well because they are also in the business of showing who their core customer/reader likes as well. At the end of the day it is about education on all parts & everyone expanding their horizons & seeing beyond their narrow view of the world of fashion and the world in general.

In a business where even bad press is better than no press at all, I am starting to think that the whole topic of exclusion & painting black face gets more press than inclusion. As Black people & people of color, we just need to stop waiting & asking for mainstream to do right by us & let’s focus on doing right by ourselves. Many magazines who cater to women of color often rarely show much variation in the models in their own fashion spreads. Ask my plus size and dark skin sisters how often they see their likeness in the magazines they patronize before you get mad at Karl Lagerfeld saying no one wants to see real women. Why be mad at French Vogue for Black face & not mad at Tyra Bank’s Top Model show for Black face? We need to clean our own house before trying to clean up someone else’s because at the end of the day serving us is not on their to do list of priorities. Let’s focus on what we are doing for our own inclusion in the multibillion dollar business of fashion .

Check out what we should be giving our attention & press to in order to keep rising in our global representation since fashion & spending power is bigger than the runways of New York & Europe.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/business/media/05magazine.html

Should we be spending our time helping to spread this message instead of focusing on what we can do as a people to claim our own stake in the fashion industry.

Designers bring Africa to the runway but leave models behind: Read More Here

Blogosphere Coverage

Daily News Coverage

This was an interesting blog I found from the Brazilian perspective of Black exclusion in fashion HERE

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