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.”
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DÉBUTANTE by Yelena Grelet – @yelsss Behind the vivacious, regal costumes and theatrical poses lies a multi-talented, CSM BA Fashion Communication and Promotion graduate. Joseph Bates wears many hats – he is a costume designer, his own model and a self-portrait photographer among other things. Exploring West African carnival costume and festivals has been a recurring theme both in his final major project, ‘Lokko’ and ‘Débutante’ photoshoot for Platform. “I grew up in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire and it was super white. My family is mixed-race, but I never knew anyone from my Ghanaian side of my family, so I felt quite isolated.” Moving to London allowed Bates to explore this British-Ghanaian heritage, and he was strongly encouraged by his tutors at CSM to do so. The results are fabulous, memorable and deeply personal. He has found his personal style since graduating, Bates’ self-portraits of ‘white face’ characters in dramatic, larger-than-life costumes brings a whimsical side to fashion imagery during dark times. “I realised that I love creating characters. I try to amuse myself when I’m making, because otherwise, what’s it for?” Though he hopes to one day be able to style and design the costumes for a musician’s tour with no creative boundaries, Bates is currently focusing on showing the beauty in giving a second life to discarded materials, and also urging the fashion media to be more attentive on what and how they put out a message. “There’s always going to be messages that can be slipped in. You have people getting into trouble for blackface controversy, but they could have engaged basic sensitivity and elemental critical thinking and not done it. I believe in thinking about your own work means, and how it will engage the viewer. Critical thinking- let’s have more of that.” Head to our Instagram stories to read the full article… #ChristopherKanePlatform #Débutante #bafjcsm
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.
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THE ‘BOUJHETTO’ HAIRSTYLIST OF THE WEST by Yelena Grelet – @yelsss Many remember American singer-songwriter Solange’s fabulous 2018 Met Gala hair-do, but not many are aware that the Jamaican hairstylist Jawara Wauchope was behind the creation of the innovative braided halo look. If ghetto-chic was an actual word, then Wauchope’s work accurately depicts this. “There’s always been a disconnect for me because there’s not a lot of things that represent what I’ve seen or experienced in my life, or what a lot of other people who look like me have experienced.’ Growing up in Jamaica, Wauchope was fascinated by the bold and creative hairstyles that he would see on a daily basis- so much so that 20 years later, he continues to celebrate within his own work. Through his avant-garde hairstyles and recent ‘Tallawah’ exhibition at London’s Cob in collaboration with photographer Nadine Ijewere, Wauchope not only embraces but also sparks political and cultural conversations on black culture. As Dyson’s global styling ambassador, the 36-year-old visionary is ensuring that all ethnic hair is placed on the same pedestal by having recently released hair drying extensions to suit all hair textures- something that has never been considered before. Despite becoming a successful hairstylist, Wauchope reflects back to his preteens when he didn’t know that his passion for hair could lead him to a professional career. “I think about when I was young, I didn’t know that this was a possibility,” he said. For that reason, Wauchope hopes to implement an educational programme in Jamaica, England and America for aspiring hairstylists. Head to our Instagram stories to read the full article… #ChristopherKanePlatform #Hairbyjawara #bafjcsm