Let models of colour participate at London Fashion Week

Black BUT Invisible Campaign challenges the British Fashion Council 5th February 2009: The question we hardly ask ourselves is, how many British models of colour can we name? Models of colour in this case refers to models of African, Caribbean, Hispanic, Oriental, Asian and dual heritage ethnicity.

modelsofcolour4.pngThe obvious answer that comes to our mind is Naomi Campbell. Yes, that’s right. She is one of the most successful and the most famous British model of colour.

But leaving Naomi aside, can you tell me the name of any other British model of colour? Without doubt you are struggling to think of any.

And you are not alone. Many others are also struggling like you to figure out the names of other British models of colour.

Some, due to the fact that they can’t figure out any, can be tempted to say that they don’t exist. But that’s not true. They exist. In fact there are so many extraordinary British models of colour, only that the system is forcing them to be invisible. Those with the power of making them visible have decided to give them a blackout not because they are not beautiful, not because they are not qualified for a place on the catwalks, but simply because they happen not to have the white skin. If this is not racial discrimination, then I’d appreciate a better term for referring to it.

As the British Fashion Council prepares to host the London Fashion Week later this month, Mahogany Model Management is questioning why they failed to allow models of colour to merely audition for a place on the catwalk of one of the world’s most prestigious events.

Sola Oyebade, Chief Executive of Mahogany Model Management says: “London is recognised as one of the most diverse cities in the world but this is not reflected in the models used during the London Fashion Weeks and many of the other Fashion Weeks across the world.”

In June 2008, Mahogany Model Management launched the Black BUT Invisible Campaign with the primary aim of increasing the numbers of models of colour present in the fashion industry.

modelsofcolour3.pngThe Campaign calls for a stop to this open discrimination. Models of colour deserve a chance to fully participate not only in the London Fashion Week, but in all other fashion events taking place throughout the UK.

The organisers of such events must make efforts to put a fair proportion of models of colour on the catwalk.

These girls are very beautiful (please these pictures and tell me if I’m wrong), are intelligent, and have all the required talents and skills. These models are not inferior in any way to their white counterparts.

There is no doubt that the discrepancy between the number of models of colour, and that of white models that adorn the catwalk can be closed.

The Black BUT Invisible Campaign points out that ‘black’ is selling out in every other industry as well as in politics. The success of story of Barack Obama becoming the first ever black American President of USA is a perfect example. The Campaign also gives examples of successful global music icons such as Beyonce Knowles, Rihanna and Chris Brown and television hosts such as Oprah Winfrey and ex-supermodel Tyra Banks.

“It is therefore high time that the fashion industry in London, one of the world’s most culturally diverse cities, began to mirror the city that it claims to represent,” says Black BUT Invisible Campaign.

By Stephen Ogongo

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