Why is it that in these populous cities, opportunities are rarely given to those with a lot to lose?

During these unprecedented times, designers and small fashion-focused businesses are feeling the hit – big corporates and e-commerce stores are not immune either.

I found this article from the Business of Fashion on the topic of Not Just a Label (NJAL) founded with the mission to create a platform supporting emerging designers at no cost — connecting diverse, global creative talent to both the international fashion industry and consumers worldwide.

The question that struck me:

“What do you believe is critical for an environment in which designers can thrive?”

For creatives, that means having a job that pays more than the current minimum living wage, in an area that is commutable and affordable. The current system, especially in cities like London and New York, does not allow for designers to make mistakes lest they lose their jobs. This is where we as a society fail and miss out on nurturing innovation and creativity outside of those from wealthy backgrounds.

Why is it that in these populous cities, the opportunities are rarely given to those with a lot to lose? How will we ever nurture innovation if we continue to treat those who cannot afford to fail as if they are indispensable to the fashion industry?

Miu Miu: Suddenly next summer

Miu Miu has enlisted the talented Elle Fanning and Lara Stone to star, amongst others, to model their Spring/Summer 2017 collection. Kitschy prints have made it all over Miu Miu’s colourful coats and cute swimming ensembles. Collaborating with director and photographer Alasdair McLellan (this is his third Miu Miu campaign) the sunset movie-short has created a summery feeling amidst an otherwise dreary start to the year.

Jaden Smith, new face of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear Spring/Summer 2016 collection

Jaden Smith has been announced as the new face of Louis Vuitton’s womenswear collection this week.

It is hard not to take notice of the shot below. As the only Black, male model appearing in the campaign, Jaden has created a much-needed discussion on diversity and gender-fluidity.

Willow Smith, Jaden’s younger sister praised her brother, posting the campaign photo on Instagram with the caption: “The more we start to realise that we are all the same and infinitely different at the same time, the more we begin to shed those expectations and live free to continue to uplift the essence of Earth.”

Jaden has been known for wearing women’s clothing in the past, stating that they aren’t women’s clothes, they are simply clothes.

It’s hard not to agree with his statement that clothes are just clothes. Whoever wants to wear it, should. Some have taken issue with this, but how is it harming anyone?

Jaden seems happy, and at 17 it’s an impressive win for him. I’m sure this career move won’t hinder him at all, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

This is made even better for those who feel as though gender fluidity should be taken more seriously, as this puts the topic front and centre, just like Jaden in the campaign shots.

On the other hand, Louis Vuitton’s Series 4 Spring/Summer 2016 campaign seems to have started with a bang. Artistic Director, Nicolas Ghesquiere, has given us an outstanding womenswear collection full of lush prints, fabulous shoes and plenty of attitude.

Is the age of the ‘Supermodel’ over? The reality of modelling in 2016.

Ellie Pithers, the fashion features editor at Vogue and The Telegraph, wrote a brilliant feature interviewing model Binx Walton. The striking model has been seen on the cover of Vogue, Teen Vogue and Dazed. Walton gives readers a glimpse of what to expect if you are thinking about becoming a model.

You can read it here.

Jourdan Dunn stuns on the cover of Lui Magazine

Jourdan Dunn has been on fire this year, and looks gorgeous on the cover of Lui Magazine.

Dunn has paved the way for other Black women in the fashion industry, and she has accomplished a lot, just like supermodels Naomi Campbell and Iman before her.

Dunn won the British Fashion Award for the model of the year last month, and continues to find success in other ventures such as her cooking channel, ‘Well Dunn’ with Jourdan Dunn on Youtube.

Why do we insist on lightening BAME women on the front cover of magazines?

What have Kerry Washington and Beyonce got in common?

Both are successful black women in tough industries, both have featured in multiple ‘sexiest women alive’ lists, and they have graced many respectable magazines as the cover star. Unfortunately, they have also both been on a magazine cover where their skin was lightened and their faces altered.

It is important to note that they are both major role models to Black women in Western society – a place where we are indoctrinated to believe we have equal opportunities no matter who we are, although this isn’t the case.

When both of these women have had their skin colour altered on popular magazines, accessible to millions of people around the English-speaking world, what sort of message does this give?

Jody Furlong, the founder of Eye Casting, a casting company based in London, spoke to us on the history and background as to why Black and mixed-race models are not always the first choice for magazines and adverts, and why a darker complexion is not always desirable to racist editors.

“This isn’t new,” Furlong tells me: “Historically lighter skin is more precious, it’s down to the caste system in some countries. The idea that lighter skin is preferable, and a sign that you are wealthier is an archaic trait of why people want lighter skin, but you still have advertising companies and magazines who ask for light skin women even here in the UK.”

White models have had the luxury for decades to be put on mainstream fashion and lifestyle magazines freely without worry. Black models have always struggled to have the same rights.

Internationally renowned models Naomi Campbell, Iman Abdulmajid and Bethann Harden have been fighting for years for equality in fashion. All three started when it was not profitable to hire black models.

Furlong said: “I recently got one email saying no Black women, light skin women only, as it is what is seen as desirable by the casting director. It is all about marketing. They are selling the customer what they think they want. Magazines own a position of influence; some see darker skin in a bad light. They see it is a sign of poverty, which in the eyes of the business equals fewer sales and less advertising.”

Just over 5% of the UK population identifies as black or mixed, in the US that figure is 13.2%. Circulations of these magazines are high, so admittedly certain magazines are way behind the times.

Furlong continues: “Why are we lightening Beyonce? Kerry Washington? Successful attractive Black women who should be able to sell magazines because the majority of the intended audience doesn’t care what colour they are. I don’t think it sells more magazines; it is unfathomable to think that this perceived idea that a Black woman doesn’t sell has ever been proved.

“The February issue of Vogue, for example, is a good indication of how fashion magazines treat diverse women; February is a month that magazines don’t tend to sell for several reasons. That is also the same month that they will put a Black cover star so that they look racially aware but they are doing nothing for the cause. This concept has never been proved and it is ridiculous that this is an accepted notion in the fashion world.”

Lightening products in the Western world are prevalent, but in places such as Nigeria where 77 per-cent of women use skin lightening products, (according to a recent World Health Organisation report) can you put all the blame on the media for influencing women to lighten their skin? Furlong said: “I hope it is a conscious decision, make the model look nicer, fresher, the tone of the make-up they use. You can also flip it on the other side and realise that photographers use special make-up to have an effect on camera that will translate well on the front cover, it is not always 100% intentional, but a lot of the times it is.”

The situation was talked about all over Twitter, everyone weighing in with different thoughts and opinions.

Freelance photographer, Nataline Lamptey said: “It is difficult to speak about as a Black individual. If I saw pictures of myself lightened up, where the majority of my fan base is Black women, what is there to say? If she is saying that’s okay, then we feed into that because we look up to her, and it’s not just Black actresses that are immune to this either. No one has criticised the media for these sorts of situations who work for the film industry, you have Lupita N’yong who constantly tells us to embrace our beauty, but what she is not saying is that the media may not embrace your beauty if you don’t fit in with their standards.”

Others don’t wholly agree with the notion that lightening your skin is a bad thing, and that women who choose to do so shouldn’t be attacked. Some say they shouldn’t be made to feel like they aren’t proud of their heritage.

When asked for comment, InStyle magazine denied purposefully lightening Washington’s skin. They credit the change of lighting on the set of the photoshoot was why the photos came out the way it did. A spokesperson for InStyle magazine said: “We are super fans of Kerry Washington here at Instyle. To feature her on the cover of our March spring fashion issue is both an honour and a delight.”

Washington responded on Twitter to the controversy: “Beautiful statement. Thank u 4 openings this convo. It’s an important 1 that needs to be had.”

British Fashion Council announces growth in fashion industry since 2009

The fashion industry’s worth to the UK has risen by five billion pounds since 2009.

£26 billion was pumped into the UK economy from the fashion industry according to researchers at Oxford Economics for the British Fashion Council.

Consumer interest has risen in the past few years effectively boosting the worth of the fashion world, making it a rare growing industry in today’s unpredictable economy.

Natalie Massenet MBE British Fashion Council (BFC) Chairman said: “I know you have heard it before but don’t forget we are worth more to the economy in the UK than the car industry.”

Massenet owns luxury online outlet Net-a-Porter, now worth £350 million and is credited with changing the way designer fashion is sold online.
As consumer confidence remains at one in the UK, analysis shows that 70% of UK internet users shop online for clothing and footwear, resulting in consumers spending £10.7 billion, with analysts expecting this to increase to £19 billion by 2019.

Massenet said: “It is time for a broader range of establishment figures, politicians and global industry leaders to recognise that fashion has a crucial impact on an economy and create inspiring job opportunities as well as garnering front-page news across the world. As an entrepreneur and business leader based in the UK I can tell you from first-hand experience that fashion is a serious business.”

The fashion industry supports over 797,000 jobs in the UK. In comparison, tourism, the UK’s fifth biggest industry, supports over a million jobs and contributes £127 billion to the country’s GDP every year.

According to the Creative Industries website, a quarter of a million tourists cite shopping as their main reason for coming to the UK, proving that London has become a massive cultural hub for fashion enthusiasts worldwide.

Official statistics from the UK government website, published in January of this year, revealed that the UK’s creative industries including fashion are now worth £76.9 billion a year.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “British designers are internationally renowned for their innovative ideas and craftsmanship. There is justifiably always a huge buzz around London Fashion Week, with journalists and buyers jetting in from around the world. Over the past few years, BFC business support and mentoring programmes have had an important role in ensuring our designers can develop and thrive in a highly competitive sector, which can be a good thing for our city’s reputation for creativity and our economy.”

Twitter is important for fashion takeover. Researchers from the BFC found that 94 per-cent of its users were aware of London Fashion Week events, and 74 per-cent of Twitter users showed interest in London Fashion Week.

Fashion has made some significant digital firsts, such as Twitter’s use of the ‘buy’ button with Burberry.

Despite the industry’s green initiatives, their many digital-first and their contribution to the UK’s economy, fashion week is often accused of being shallow, frivolous and racist. I have explored the many racist facets of the fashion industry, and agree there is a lot of work to be done. Furthermore, critics state that Fashion Week creates irrelevant and expensive clothes that the average Londoner can’t afford. One piece of clothing is comparable to the average price of living frugally for one month in London (approximately £750).

Despite what people say, these figures prove that the fashion industry do deserve some credit – providing jobs in the UK and becoming a force to be reckoned with worldwide, there is clearly nothing frivolous about fashion’s contribution to the UK economy.