Welp. That’s embarrassing.
Business of Fashion released an op-ed piece this week called “It’s Time to Address Fashion’s Race Problem,” in which the website called out Italian Vogue for seemingly separating all their photos of black models into a special section whose name awkwardly translates to “Black Vogue.” BoF daringly compares this to the “whites only” water fountains in segregated America, and uses it as an example to propel their argument that people of color are still dangerously othered in fashion.
While much of the article is very true and focusses on real issues in the industry, BoF has made, um, a really huge mistake. An incredibly important detail got lost in translation: Black Vogue exists to honor black people in fashion and to correct racism against them. It’s a spotlight for people who deserve recognition, and it’s as far from “segregated” as possible.
The editor of Vogue Italia, Franca Sozzani, released a statement to correct this mammoth of a misunderstanding:
These sections have been created on our website to raise public awareness on often neglected themes. I don’t care if someone considers our hard and complex work as racist. Those who see our work as racist might have an issue with racism themselves.
Boom. Naomi Campbell, who’s always been incredibly outspoken about the importance of diversity in fashion media, also spoke up about the criticism:
The allegations that Franca Sozzani is racist are completely absurd. When Bethann Hardison, Iman and I spoke out for Diversity in fashion last year, Franca was one of our biggest supporters. As an editor, she continues to push boundaries and often makes the public question their relationship with race. She is one of the few editors who always fights to balance racial representation in fashion.
I’m glad that race issues are being taken seriously enough that people speak out when they see injustices, but I’m also embarrassed for Business of Fashion and everyone else who pointed fingers before doing the appropriate research. Sigh. At least this mistake is bringing more attention to the fashion industry’s persisting race problem, and at least the people who are making an effort to correct this long-standing issue are getting their voices heard today.
Via Fashionista / Photo: WENN