The Business of Fashion Podcast
Combatting Anti-Asian Racism in Fashion

Combatting Anti-Asian Racism in Fashion

March 26, 2021

BoF’s Imran Amed talks with Michelle Lee, Susanna Lau and Phillip Lim about the intersectional issues and structural barriers at the core of Anti-Asian hate, and how the fashion professionals can be better allies.

The Year That Changed the World

The Year That Changed the World

March 19, 2021

A year after coronavirus lockdowns swept the world, BoF’s Imran Amed looks back at a period of sweeping change in conversation with leading voices from inside and outside fashion.

Somali Supermodel Iman on the Struggle for Representation in Fashion

Somali Supermodel Iman on the Struggle for Representation in Fashion

March 16, 2021

The Black model and entrepreneur speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about paving the way for a more inclusive fashion industry — and the work that remains to be done.

 

Iman stands out as a trailblazer in the fashion industry. She was one of the first Black models to star on the catwalk and followed her modelling career with a successful cosmetics business designed for women of colour. While she helped pave the way for more representation, she also experienced first hand the racism and discrimination that persists within the industry today.

In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, Iman speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about her experiences and the work that still needs to be done to address the problem.

  • The supermodel credits her mother’s empowering vision of self-worth for enabling her to navigate a tricky industry. “[Self-worth] is what [my mother] heavily instilled in me to be able to walk away from anything that doesn’t serve you well regardless [of] how enticing it is,” she said. “Whether it’s a man or work or whatever it is … I would always make the right decision for myself if I had a sense of self-worth.”

  • Iman has achieved stellar success and helped pave the way for greater representation throughout the industry, but throughout her career, she’s had to work harder than her peers to secure her place. “Most of the time makeup artists had no clue how to do our makeup,” says Iman. “Forget about hair, that is why most of the pictures you will see [Black women’s] hair is just pulled back because [stylists] didn’t know what to do with it.”

  • Iman remains actively involved in efforts to tackle racism in the industry through The Black Girls Coalition, a pressure group she co-founded with close friend Bethann Hardison to highlight the lack of representation in the fashion industry. “It’s a learning experience because you just have to manoeuvre and find your place in this system [as a Black woman and model.]”

 

Related Articles:

Secrets of the Supermodel Trade

The BoF Podcast: Tackling Systemic Racism in the Fashion Industry

Op-Ed | Racial Diversity on the Runway

 

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How Virgil Abloh Is Lifting Up Fashion’s Next Generation of Creatives

How Virgil Abloh Is Lifting Up Fashion’s Next Generation of Creatives

February 23, 2021

The designer speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about his latest collection, making change and the importance of elevating the next generation of fashion creatives.

 

When Virgil Abloh first broke into fashion he remembers feeling like a tourist. The designer began his career in architecture and says he struggled to find his place in an industry of insiders. But after three years at the helm of Louis Vuitton’s menswear division, the Off-White founder is now very much part of the establishment. In the latest episode of the BoF Podcast, Abloh speaks with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks about his hopes of paving the way to a more democratic and inclusive industry for the younger generation and why he’s launched a TV station.

The designer is increasingly focused on lifting up the next generation of young designers, conscious of his responsibility to open up the industry. Last year, he raised $1 million to launch the “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund for Black students.

 

Related Articles:

Virgil Abloh: ‘You Have to Choose Your Message Wisely’

What’s Off-White Without Virgil?

Virgil Abloh: ‘I Am Not a Designer’

 

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How An Emergency Nurse Broke into Fashion During the Pandemic

How An Emergency Nurse Broke into Fashion During the Pandemic

January 19, 2021

Oluwole Olosunde, the founder of streetwear and home goods label Against Medical Advice, speaks at BoF VOICES 2020 on lessons from the crisis and the importance of making room for new talent.

 

In the fight to curb the coronavirus pandemic, frontline medical workers emerged as heroes. During VOICES 2020 last December, BoF welcomed one of them, the emergency nurse-turned-fashion designer Oluwole Olosunde, to share his truly unique perspective on what the fashion industry can learn about nurturing young talent.Olosunde is a trauma nurse whose ambitions go far beyond healthcare. Known as Wole to friends and as Guacawole online to his more than 20,000 followers, he spent 2020 juggling treating patients at a New York City emergency ward with launching his streetwear and home goods line, Against Medical Advice.In this week’s BoF podcast, he discusses how his experiences treating patients in a multi-cultural, multi-lingual city have informed his approach to design, and the importance of giving motivated young talent a chance.

 

Related Articles:
The Emergency Room Nurse Turning His Fashion Dreams Into a Reality
VOICES 2020: Fixing the Fashion System

 

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‘Change Isn’t Good Enough if It’s Just Change for Me’

‘Change Isn’t Good Enough if It’s Just Change for Me’

December 10, 2020

Can fashion avoid tokenism and make sincere inclusivity a reality? At BoF VOICES, Sinéad Burke and Samira Nasr talk about how to be an inclusive leader in 2020.

 

After a year when awareness of the need for greater racial, physical and socioeconomic inclusion surged, can the fashion industry learn to avoid tokenism and turn that momentum into enduring change?In a conversation with activist, educator and writer Sinéad Burke at BoF VOICES, Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Samira Nasr spoke about how and why she is working to build an inclusive team in her new role.“The best dinner parties are the ones with more difference. You don’t want to be sitting there with someone with the same ideas,” said Nasr, who was appointed to lead the magazine’s US edition in June.In many parts of the fashion industry, the status quo is only just beginning to shift.
“I’m thinking about how to measure and put a process in place so that there’s systemic change,” Burke said. “Change isn’t good enough if it’s just change for me.”

 

Related Articles:
VOICES 2020: Fixing the Fashion System

 

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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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Rebuilding Lebanon’s Fashion Industry

Rebuilding Lebanon’s Fashion Industry

August 20, 2020

Elie Saab Jr, chief executive of Elie Saab Group, and Lebanese designers Roni Helou and Amine Jreissati speak about the urgent need for global solidarity in the face of crisis.

Jerry Lorenzo Says, ‘I Know What I’m Fighting For’

Jerry Lorenzo Says, ‘I Know What I’m Fighting For’

August 18, 2020

The Fear of God designer talks American luxury and why feeling like an outsider is a strength.

 

LONDON, United Kingdom — For Fear of God Founder Jerry Lorenzo, being an outsider is an advantage. “I just feel like I never fit,” he told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of The BoF Podcast. “I’ve gotten to a place where I’m ok with that and I don’t need to fit within fashion to be validated… and so I know that I’m outside but I feel like my strength is that I’m outside. My strength is that I see [things] differently.”

Lorenzo has often taken a less-beaten path, but it’s his approach to collection drops — his latest is the first he has released in two years — as well an ability to use fashion as a platform to foster social change, that have helped to position him as an industry leader. An outsider no longer?

  • "The Pelican Brief," "The Breakfast Club," "License to Drive" and "Rocky IV" are just some of ‘80s movies Lorenzo often references. “There’s something about that time period that to me was the highest level of effortlessness and sophistication,” he said. That spirit is alive in his seventh collection, which offers an “unfiltered vision of tailoring and suiting” for the first time, as well as accessories and handknits. “It’s a move from an emerging brand to a foundational brand,” Lorenzo said. “What we’re doing with [this] collection is purely our point of view.”
  • Using his platform, Lorenzo looks to inspire young people to pursue their passions relentlessly in whatever field. “I know what I’m fighting for and I’m clear on that,” he said. “Some kids just don’t have the example of someone that looks like them… and without that visual example, sometimes it feels impossible… fashion just happens to be the platform that I’m using to do that.”
  • Fear of God might be rooted in streetwear, but Lorenzo explained why it’s more than that. “Some people just chalk it up to be a hoodie and that’s okay but we understand that we’re providing the solution for the lifestyle that today is the modern man,” he said. “We’re putting out clothes when we feel like… we have something to say… [and] that we have solutions for what’s missing in the marketplace. We don’t feel like we’re operating from a place of a capitalistic spirit, we feel we’re proposing what’s needed.”

 

Related Articles:

The Decade When Streetwear Rewrote the Rules of Luxury

What the Merger of Suiting and Streetwear Says About the Men’s Market

Streetwear Took Over the Fashion Industry. Now What?

 

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Tackling Systemic Racism in the Fashion Industry

Tackling Systemic Racism in the Fashion Industry

August 6, 2020

Harlem Fashion Row’s Brandice Daniel, Black in Fashion Council Co-Founder Sandrine Charles and creative consultant Henrietta Gallina on actionable anti-racism steps brands must take to move the industry forward.

 

NEW YORK, United States — The anti-racism protests that erupted across the US over the last two months have brought conversations around racism in the fashion industry to the fore. In the latest #BoFLIVE event, BoF’s Lauren Sherman spoke with Harlem Fashion Row Chief Executive Brandice Daniel, Sandrine Charles Consultancy Founder Sandrine Charles as well as brand and creative consultant Henrietta Gallina about combatting systemic racism in the fashion industry.
  • In order to implement meaningful change, brands must introduce clear, public goals for which they are accountable. Vague, performative messages will no longer suffice as employees and consumers put pressure on brands to deliver actionable progress. “When we talk about the problem, I always come back to equity and that’s what I’m striving for,” said Gallina. “We are no longer asking for the industry to support us, we are asking for the power structures to be rebuilt.”
  • Companies must be holistic in their approach when tackling racism in the workplace. “It absolutely starts at the leadership level and C-suite level,” Daniel said. “Black people have set the foundation for the fashion industry but we’ve never held leadership roles.” Hiring a D&I chief, while a step in the right direction, doesn’t hold much weight if anti-racism measures aren’t implemented throughout the business, both from the bottom up and the top down.
  • “What’s really important is that everyone else acknowledges where they have a privilege in this industry,” said Charles, who is also the co-founder of the Black in Fashion Council. “Moving forward, they also have to do the work.” Charles, Daniel and Gallina all underscored the importance of introspection and then action, particularly from white and non-Black people. Committed allies are a crucial step to moving the fashion industry forward. “It’s essential that we do the work with everyone because there are various spaces that we don’t have access to,” Charles said.
 
Related Articles:

 

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