Oh, race and fashion, you have been on overload as of late. And while it’s beginning to ensure that everyone is super aware of things happening in race relations, especially when it comes to fashion, sometimes wires get crossed.
One example is the latest controversy between Business of Fashion writer Jason Campbell and Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani. In an Op-Ed blog post titled “It’s Time to Address Fashion’s Race Problem,” Campbell spoke on Vogue Italia’s recent addition to their street style section, wherein the mag separated street style shots of black people into a section called “Vogueista Black.”
Jason penned a post that pointed out the following:
“Vogue Black” was launched back in 2010, but what recently attracted my attention was its coverage from Pitti Uomo in Florence for which the site’s editors thought it appropriate to segregate black street style images in a section of the site’s “Black Blog” called “Vogueista Black.” I had a visceral reaction to this discovery. Do viewers require a different lens to appreciate our sense of style? Is it to say that we’re less or more fashionable? Why separate coverage of us at all?
Vogue Italia‘s Franca Sozzani caught wind of the article (because the entire internet reacted based on it) and had a well-fueled response all her own. She even called in the big dogs, Naomi Campbell and Bethann Hardison, who have dedicated their days to bringing diversity to the fashion world.
Franca spoke on the allegations of racism, saying:
“These sections have been created on our website to raise public awareness on often neglected themes. I don’t care if someone considers our hard and complex work as racist. Those who see our work as racist might have an issue with racism themselves. [...] Besides, aren’t there magazines totally dedicated to black people, such as Ebony for example? Have such publications ever been accused of being racist? But why Vogue Black was?
Why doesn’t the one who talks commit to change the many situations that are more important than talking about racism in fashion? Let’s try to be concrete and not start a campaign conceived to make headlines with pointless controversy. Let’s do more, all of us, to fight homophobia and the real tragedies caused by poverty and let’s put aside this meaningless attention-seeking attitude.”
Naomi had her bit to say on the post, adding:
“The allegations that Franca Sozzani is racist are completely absurd. When Bethann Hardison, Iman and I spoke out for Diversity in fashion late last year, Franca was one of our biggest supporters. As an editor she continues to push boundaries and often makes the public question their relationship with race. She is one of the few editors who always fights to balance racial representation in fashion.
Over the years Franca has supported my work with numerous charities from Fashion for Relief to the Mandela’s Children’s Fund – ever eager to help a good cause. I am proud to consider Franca a close friend and professional collaborator and as such I am happy to clarify the truth.”
PHOTO CREDIT: Vogue Italia