The Race Card
It’s been a long journey.
A journey filled with despair, anticipation and, for the most part, stillness.
There were moments when we felt like nothing would ever change.
And there were times where the world would pretend to listen to us.
PHOTOGRAPHER | NICK STERKENBURG
STYLIST | HAYLEY CLUTTERBUCK
WORDS BY CYNTHIA TAYLU
But every time we raised our voices, we were hushed.
People turned their backs and the truth of our pain was stifled.
And now… well, now, the world is telling us things have changed.
More specifically, fashion is telling us, its very industry has changed.
Today, our chocolate tone is “exotic”.
Our plump lips have become a trend, and our silhouette is the new ‘in thing’.
Has fashion accepted diversity? Or, has fashion identified an opportunity to make more money?
It’s hard to answer this.
There are some companies that really get it – and advocate for a better future – because differences mean more creativity, and therefore, opportunity to create better art.
But, there are others still cemented in the ways of times gone by; less tolerant times, at that.
These companies pretend to care as a means of making themselves feel better and increasing revenue.
A clear example: when H&M produced a hoodie with the phrase, “Coolest Monkey in the jungle,” modelled by a young black boy, only to argue the design was a bad call, selected in error, and the result of ignorance (actually, I’m calling it ignorance, H&M simply claimed it didn’t realise that particular slogan would cause offence).
In this context, people started to grasp that perhaps these big brands don’t actually get it.
I yearn for a world wherein people are able to see the individual for the content of their character, not the colour of their skin.
A world whereby companies don’t invite black influencers on getaway trips, only to exclude them from activities, all the while claiming to be egalitarian.
I seek a world wherein brands don’t engender diversity because it’s the “cool” thing to do. I mean, imagine if this trend runs out of steam; will diversity follow in suit?
I want fashion to celebrate our differences with sincerity and authenticity.
Until then, I feel weary about what to think of ‘diversity in fashion’ today. Don’t you?