LONDON — Less than a year after being named editor in chief at Dazed, Ibrahim Kamara will be honored with the Isabella Blow Award for Fashion Creator at the British Fashion Council’s Fashion Awards, taking place Nov. 29.
Kamara quickly stood out for his rich visual storytelling that weaves in high fashion, with diverse cultural references and questions on gender and identity. He is now the stylist of choice for the likes of Virgil Abloh, Erdem Moralioglu and Riccardo Tisci, and before taking on the top job at Dazed, he produced editorials for the likes of i-D, System, Vogue Italia and Another magazine.
He has already been making waves: His first issue of Dazed, shot by Paolo Roversi, paid homage to the British National Healthcare System’s vaccine drive and the power of collective change; he explored cultural exchange by zooming in on the multicultural city of Guangzhou; and has already scored covers with everyone from Rihanna to British football hero Marcus Rashford and Harry Styles.
From the get-go, his mission was to produce a “British magazine with a global perspective” and ensure that the kids reading Dazed can recognize themselves in its pages, no matter what their background. Receiving the Isabella Blow accolade at this year’s Fashion Awards is another major milestone, furthering his mission.
“I’m very happy and humbled. This is testament to the BFC’s efforts around diversity, reaching out and inspiring young people from different walks of life to feel like they can belong in the [fashion] space and create,” said Kamara in an interview, also giving the thumbs-up to the awards’ new format which puts the focus on changemakers rather than individual brands. “The aim is to develop these talented individuals making a change, no matter where they come from, so this is the right direction. Progress has been made but we have a longer way to go: One day I hope to see more stylists like me working in magazines and the broader industry.”
To get the fashion industry one step closer to that vision, Kamara has been working to make Dazed accessible at schools and universities across the U.K., as well as make it available to buy online across the world. “That’s the grassroots of shaking up the structure we’ve known, that’s where you really tackle inclusion,” he said. “If someone is old enough to read Dazed, they should have access to it.”
He also wants to make sure that Dazed’s pages open readers’ eyes to cultures from all over the world, so he’s been focused on developing a global team of contributors from major fashion capitals like Paris, Mexico City, Lagos and across Africa and the Middle East.
“I also push the people we commission to travel to the places they are referring to and immerse themselves in the culture. It’s really inspiring that young people are ready to go and just tell stories around the world for us. Sometimes we get local contributors from the places that we love, they become part of our family and we keep working with them, sending them to other destinations,” added Kamara, who is an avid traveler himself and often references a variety of cultures in his imagery.
In today’s day and age it only takes being “extremely inquisitive” to source the right type of people from across the world and infiltrate communities that align with your voice and values, according to the editor.
He is also quick to credit his team for inspiring him and highlight the “family-like” atmosphere he has been establishing in the Dazed office — a far cry from the old-fashioned “Devil Wears Prada” stereotype that has at times been associated with fashion glossies.
“We’re just having a great time creating the magazine, it’s like university all over again. The aim is to keep pushing what we stand for and also how much fun we’re having. I’ve always been anti-office but now I’m enjoying it so much because I’m being challenged every single second of being in our office with new ideas and points of view. We want everyone to feel like they’re part of the family and contributing to positive change,” he said, adding that establishing healthier working spaces and personal values is a big part of moving the fashion industry forward.
“We shouldn’t forget the promises we made to ourselves in 2020, we need to keep that going. I personally try to prioritize time with family and friends much more, dedicate time to research and also to my health — it’s a 360 evaluation of your life.”