LONDON — Barrier of entry has historically been one of the biggest issues in the fashion industry, particularly for young creatives from minority or lower-income backgrounds.
To help break down some of those barriers and start diversifying the industry’s workforce, Christopher Kane is lending his platform — and his network — to a group of Central Saint Martins’ BAME [Black, Asian and minority ethnic] students to launch their new digital zine.
“[This] is part of our pledge to support young Black creatives and ethnic minorities within the fashion community through actioned solidarity against racism and discrimination. By making space on our platform to amplify their voices, we hope to help lift the barriers of entry to the fashion industry,” wrote Christopher and Tammy Kane, who have been in conversation with the college’s faculty to find ways to facilitate the entry of more Black and minority students into the industry and kept coming across the issue of “network access.”
The students, who are part of Central Saint Martins’ BA fashion journalism and promotion course and are also behind The F Word print publication, got the opportunity to take over the Christopher Kane Instagram account for a day — which counts more than 660,000 followers — to introduce Platform, a new monthly zine advocating for “a level playing field” and “sincere change.”
The zine is edited by students Yelena Gretel and Hannah Karpel, who are looking to approach the industry’s diversity mission with authenticity and create a platform for young creative voices.
“For as long as we can remember, inequality, discrimination and underrepresentation have been at the heart of the elitist fashion industry. Sadly, too many young, talented people have gone unnoticed because of lack of opportunities and systemic racism,” wrote Gretel and Karpel in their editors’ letter. “Following the recent Black Lives Matter movement and protests, a multitude of people are finally waking up to the prejudice and inequalities that many are still facing on a daily basis and forcing those at the top to actually look, really look, at their structures.”
The online publication features a shoot by Central Saint Martins graduate Joe Bates featuring costumes he designed from repurposed materials on Black dolls with “white face” masks; interviews with the likes of Nigerian-Irish stylist Natalie Roar and Jamaican hairstylist Jawara Wauchope, who was behind Solange’s much talked-about Met Gala hairdo in 2018, and a personal essay by Ore Ajala discussing how she came to accept and celebrate her hair as part of her identity.
“It’s through giving a Platform to the younger generation that the story can truly move along,” added Karpel and Gretel.