BEING black in the fashion industry:
Fashion has been my love from a very young age to the point I decided to turn my hobby into a career.
I am very grateful for all the opportunities that living in London has brought to me since I got here 7 years ago.
Initially, I started modeling and never thought being black in the fashion industry could be difficult. But I quickly saw it wasn’t for me.I just couldn’t stand people telling me I wasn’t pretty enough, tall enough, slim enough, especially from people who weren’t that “out of this world” looking themselves either (sorry, not sorry).
So I stopped modeling.Then moved on to blogging and now fashion styling which is truly my passion and can’t wait to see what the future holds.
It’s 2018, yet I can barely name one black female singer in the Uk right now.
As I progress in the fashion industry, the more I realize how tricky it is for a black girl no matter how beautiful or talented she is. As a black stylist (yes, unfortunately, my skin color needs to be highlighted here). I do struggle to understand it. I can’t believe how little to no representation there is: on TV, Music videos, movies. And the struggle is everywhere from black bloggers to black designers and since God knows how long for black models. Yet every day I meet so many amazing black singers, actors or TV presenters who are really trying make it, yet no doors are opened.
It’s 2018, yet I can barely name one black female singer in the Uk right now. Is it because there are none or is it because no one wants to see them on TV? Another typical example will be Idriss Elba, Chiwetel Ejiofor, David Oyelowo
who all admitted that if it was only up to the British film scene, they would not be where they are. They received world recognition only after they appeared on American screens.
On the modeling part, A few months ago, I attended Pure London,
If I tell you that out of more than 20 models they had for their catwalk, I did not see one single black model, not even one mixed race. I know it is not a race parade, but for London which is such a multiethnicity city why not have it represented in a major industry and platform as fashion, film, and Tv?
She has the most pretty and unique face I have ever seen, she could sell me whatever makeup she had on and I will happily buy it without question.
But to my big surprise, she isn’t signed to any agency and of course, I wanted to find out why?
That is when she reveals she has sent countless emails and applications to agencies that I can’t name1` but has never received any responses. And for the few that did answer, they told her they were full. It’s not the first time I hear or see this but I am still nonetheless shocked.
Since when are modeling agencies full? Especially the big ones? I will understand if they told her: She isn’t the type of models they represent or that her book wasn’t strong enough or at least give her some progressive criticism but to blatantly tell(lie) they are fully booked…Yeah right!
It just reminded me of the story of 3 black girls who once went to a nightclub in Mayfair after they’ve done their bookings online, but to later find out they couldn’t get in because apparently, the club was full…Which was a complete lie as the security guy said to them, they could only let the mixed-race friend in but not them(hmm, wonder why!!).
To conclude, I know I’m definitely not the biggest voice out there and not even sure up to 20 people will read this article. But writing about it is already a start. Especially since I really love London with its multicultural attributes and never thought that being black in the fashion industry could and is such an issue(since the 70’s) which I don’t even think most people are aware of. Though Personally, so far I have not felt any threat yet, but just the idea that I might not progress fairly in my work because of my skin color is still quite crazy to me!
Let’s just say I will not let that defeat me, my work and purpose.
Pictures, Courtesy: ARCHYRA