The Business of Fashion Podcast
Stella Jean Asks ‘Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion?’

Stella Jean Asks ‘Do Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion?’

August 27, 2020

The Italian-Haitian designer and the only Black member of Italy’s Camera della Moda speaks to BoF Editor-in-Chief about racism within the country’s fashion industry.

LONDON, United Kingdom —  For designer Stella Jean, enough is enough. “It’s time to turn the page” and demand fashion reform, she said. Last month, alongside Milan-based designer Edward Buchanan, Jean issued letters to Carlo Capasa, president of the Camera della Moda, and to the organisation’s 14 executive members in what Jean described as “an historical appeal to bring to the forefront for the first time in our history, the paradoxical taboo topic of racism in Italy… and also to support Black designers who are still invisible in the business of Italian fashion.”
In the latest episode of The BoF Podcast, Jean sat down with BoF Founder and Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed to share her personal history growing up the daughter of a Haitian mother and Italian father, discuss the systemic racism within Italy’s fashion sector and focus on fostering change.
  • The self-taught designer, whose clothes have been worn by the likes of Beyoncé, Rihanna and Zendaya, called out fashion giants for making “performative gestures of public support” regarding racism in America, while simultaneously “overlooking what is happening to the Black minority in their own country among its workforce.” During the virtual call with Amed, Jean shared that she had received a letter from Capasa regarding the creation of a new unit in the Italian fashion council to tackle racism within the sector. Jean hopes that this will transform her question “do Black lives matter in Italian fashion?’” into the statement “Black lives matter in Italian fashion.”
  • In order to effect change, fashion leaders and executives must have an open discussion about what more can be done to boost diversity within their organisations, Jean said. While brands rushed to post black squares on social media, Jean urged leaders to first address the lack of diversity within their corporate structures. “[Brands] have long preached multiculturalism but have rarely applied such concepts beyond the media window… [and] in the spaces away from the spotlight where no one is watching,” she said. “[This is a] wound that we have ignored for far too long… If you don’t understand that awareness is the first step in solving the problem, this wound will never heal.”
  • For Jean, who founded the sustainable development initiative Laboratorio delle Nazioni, growing up in the 1980s “and struggling [with] being so diverse from [her] fellow citizens has motivated [her] to find a way to show people not to be afraid of different cultures and colours, but instead to see them… as a chance to grow better and together.” Jean recognises fashion as a tool that can offer fair and equitable opportunities for people in low-income countries. When Jean creates a collection she meets and works with various artisans in countries like Peru, Haiti, Burkina Faso, Mali or Pakistan for example, researching and learning about the local indigenous skills to then create a textile or garment, combining the country’s traditional craftsmanship with Italian design. “The beauty of fashion is it has no borders,” Jean said.

Related Articles:
Op-Ed | Fashion Is Part of the Race Problem
Op-Ed | Inclusivity Demands More Than a Show
Fashion's New Stella

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Activist DeRay Mckesson on the Realities of Social Injustice

Activist DeRay Mckesson on the Realities of Social Injustice

June 5, 2020

The Black Lives Matter activist recently launched 8CantWait, a new campaign aimed at reducing police violence.

 

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Special Edition: Journalist Rana Ayyub on Why Social Distancing Is a Privilege

Special Edition: Journalist Rana Ayyub on Why Social Distancing Is a Privilege

April 3, 2020

In the latest special edition of the BoF Podcast, Indian journalist and author Rana Ayyub joins BoF’s Editor-in-Chief Imran Amed to discuss the impact of Covid-19 on the lives thousands of migrant labourers, many of whom work in India's now-shuttered textile industry.

 

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Alok Vaid-Menon on Why Clothes Have No Gender | BoF VOICES

Alok Vaid-Menon on Why Clothes Have No Gender | BoF VOICES

January 31, 2020

At VOICES 2019, performance artist and designer Alok Vaid-Menon lifted the lid on fashion’s ‘regressive’ gender stereotypes and urged the industry to ‘de-gender’ and redefine the meaning of beauty.

To watch Alok's talk at VOICES 2019 on our YouTube channel click here.

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Trisha Shetty on Human Rights and Human Wrongs | BoF VOICES

Trisha Shetty on Human Rights and Human Wrongs | BoF VOICES

January 3, 2020

In the face of ongoing gender discrimination and human rights violations around the world, activist Trisha Shetty amplifies the importance of speaking up and demanding change from world leaders at VOICES 2019. 

To watch Trisha's talk at VOICES 2019 on our YouTube channel click here.

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Tyler Mitchell, From Skateboarding to Photographing Beyoncé | Inside Fashion

Tyler Mitchell, From Skateboarding to Photographing Beyoncé | Inside Fashion

July 26, 2019
Speaking in conversation with Imran Amed, the photographer behind Beyoncé's September 2018 Vogue cover talks identity, social media and how he found his way into fashion photography.
 
You can watch Tyler's 2017 American Eagle campaign film here.

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DeRay Mckesson on Dismantling the Legacy of Racism in America | BoF VOICES

DeRay Mckesson on Dismantling the Legacy of Racism in America | BoF VOICES

April 8, 2019

Speaking at BoF VOICES, the activist and author unpacks his 'five big ideas' on how to redefine and dismantle the realities of social injustice.

To watch DeRay's talk at VOICES 2018 click here.  

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