Wednesday, April 21

Christopher Kane is lending his platform to BAME fashion students


BAME students are showcasing their work in a new zine (Picture: Platform/thefword-magazine.com)

The fashion industry isn’t known for its inclusivity.

Despite the fact that schools like Central St Martins have students from all walks of life, the industry itself is still pretty white. How else could Vogue editor Edward Enninful have been racially profiled on his way into his own office?

To try to rebalance the books in some small way, London-based designer Christopher Kane is helping to raise the profile of upcoming designers, stylists and fashion journalists from Black and brown backgrounds.

He and his sister Tammy have teamed up with Central St Martins tutor Judith Watt to create Platform, a monthly digital zine created by non-white students from the legendary art school. Kane launched it to his 600k-strong following on Instagram earlier this week.

Writing on the ‘gram, Kane said that ‘inequality, discrimination and under-representation have been at the heart of the elitist fashion industry’ for ‘as long as we can remember’ – meaning that many young people have missed out on opportunities.

He acknowledged that the latent interest in diversification has been ‘completely overdue’ and as such, may come across lacking authenticity.

Platform, however, seeks to do two things:

  1. Celebrate Black and minority voices now and in the future
  2. Focus on inspirational, positive stories rather than allowing ‘”cancel culture”‘ to overshadow the voices of those actually doing good’.

Editors-in-chief Hannah Karpel and Yelena Grelet are both currently on the Fashion Journalism course at CSM, and are part of The F Word – a collective of students and alumni from the department. They’ll be focussing on celebrating BAME talents throughout the zine, including friends, colleagues and strangers.

Issue one is available now. It includes an open letter penned by first-year student Ore Ajala called ‘My Black Hair’, in which she writes: ‘The biggest life lessons that I have obtained have stemmed from the ever-growing roots in my head. Lessons of resilience, patience and understanding are only three examples of a list as big as my afro.’

Everything from the features to the front cover showcases BAME talent.

More: Fashion

This month’s cover includes an image from the Tallawah exhibition at Cob’s London gallery – a collab between Jamaican hairstylist Jawara Wauchope and Nigerian-Jamaican photographer, Nadine Ijewere.

‘Not only does the image speak volumes – literally – but it is an empowering photograph. The tiaras on the model’s fabulous hairstyle are an emblem of love and honour – an ode from us [Platform contributors] to the talented people of colour,’ the editors told Vogue.

So, get ready for more Black and brown excellence.

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