Tuesday, 01 December 2009

Black But Invisible Campaign

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"We see things in colour not just black & white."
The Black But invisible campaign is openly challenging the British fashion industry for its failure to use black models within all genres of fashion. We vehemently believe the British fashion industry is practising "industry apartheid" and as a whole is institutionally racist.

The Black But Invisible campaign, which launched in July 2008, was created to question society on the lack of black models in the fashion industry and evoke a change of attitude.

The age-old excuse that "Black does not sell" imposes the idea that people who follow fashion are less likely to give a positive response if clothing items are modelled by black models. But, in a modern multicultural British society can this excuse still be viable?

The question of whether the British fashion industry is branding the British public as racist was being asked by Mahogany Model Management and the Top Model of Colour (TMC) competition, who jointly initiated the Black But Invisible campaign.

The lack of using models of colour for fashion and beauty campaigns has been recognised worldwide; however the UK fashion industry continues to turn a blind eye to the problem and has made very little effort to address the issue.

If international companies are starting to recognise the benefits of using black models, then the question of why black models are not used throughout the UK fashion industry needs to be raised.

Chief Executive of MMM, Sola Oybade said:

"We feel now is the time to say 'Black is back' and the fashion industry must start using more models of colour within mainstream fashions shows and advertising campaigns.

"As a modelling agency that represents models of colour, we have to sweat blood to ensure our models are booked for any mainstream beauty or fashion campaigns.

"The UK fashion industry is still living in prehistoric times and lacking behind the rest of the world when it comes to being diversified in terms of its representation of models and generally those involved in the industry. It is clear to see and fair to say that the UK fashion industry is institutionally racist."

This month's issue of Italian Vogue will be the first to solely use black models to highlight the palpable discrimination in the fashion world.

With such a statement, both Italian Vogue and the Black But Invisible campaign were united in sending out a strong message to those who deliberately choose not to use black models.

Vogue Italia editor-in-chief Franca Sozzani told the UK's Independent :

"Nobody is using black girls. I see so many beautiful girls and they were complaining that they are not used enough."

The Black But Invisible campaign organisers showed their support to Italian Vogue and their fight to tackle racism, with the launch of the 'Italian Vogue All Black Issue' appeal on Facebook. The appeal urged its supporters to purchase the magazine when it is released in the UK. So far, the appeal has over 12,038 supporters.

As a country that embraces and boasts of its multicultural society, can UK based fashion magazines really claim that their audience will not accept seeing Black models being used on the front covers or in editorial shoots? The Black But Invisible campaign doesn't think so.

Until all nationalities are fairly represented in an industry that defines beauty and influences a mass audience, can the UK really celebrate multiculturalism by ignoring generations of women of non-Caucasian origin?