Native Son founder Emil Wilbekin

Native Son is hosting the inaugural “Black Gay Men in Fashion: Designing Our Future and Reimagining Our Brave New World” event on Wednesday.

The virtual gathering, sponsored by P&G and Gucci Changemakers, will bring together 100 Black gay leaders in fashion, including executives, designers, stylists, entrepreneurs, influencers and social activists, to discuss having a voice, visibility and agency in the fashion industry during the age of COVID-19 and racial equality protests.

The event is the brainchild of Native Son founder Emil Wilbekin, who was previously editor at large of Essence magazine and editor in chief of Vibe magazine. He founded the advocacy and networking group in 2016 to inspire and empower Black gay men to foster new relationships and celebrate each other.

While this particular event is centered around fashion, Native Son focuses on Black gay men from all different walks of life and industries. Since its inception, it has hosted a number of panels and events with companies such as Google and last year established the Native Son Awards.

“Native Son harnesses the collective power of Black gay men to ensure that our voices, visibility and lived experiences are elevated, and never again disregarded, wherever we exist. I also wanted to show the different facets of Native Son and how a community such as ours deserves a seat at the corporate table in fashion,” Wilbekin said.

“As we continue to expand the narrative and shape the vision of the Native Son platform, having partners such as P&G and Gucci Changemakers as well as many leaders in the industry helps raise awareness of our mission and provide a proverbial microphone for our voices so Black gay men in fashion are represented and recognized for their meaningful contributions to the industry,” he continued.

Speakers include influencer and designer Jerome LaMaar; ballet dancer Harper Watters; Next Models president Kyle Hagler; i-D global fashion director Carlos Nazario; Highsnobiety fashion director Corey Stokes; Gucci vice president of brand and culture engagement Antoine Phillips; stylist Freddie Leiba, and stylist Gabriel Garmon. The speakers will discuss topics such as leadership, equity, cultural influence, creative currency and representation.

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