On June 24th, the American editorial site the Daily Beast asked, “Will Black Lives Matter Finally Inspire a Reckoning for Racism in Milan Fashion?” The articles features insight from Afro Fashion Association’s own social media manager Choice E. Imarhiagbe as well as fashion writer Jordan Anderson and thought leader Louis Pisano as it documents a disturbing legacy of overt racism in the fashion industry and Milan’s fashion events in particular, and what it would take to move forward.

“The problem is that there are not people of color at companies,” Imarhiagbe observes, despite the ample qualifications that many Black students and professionals possess. “If [the fashion industry] does not support Black businesses, if they do not want to give us a chance, we will have to create our own space. Then we will become competitors. There is no reason for major brands to not have us on their own teams [instead].”

“Through our Afro Fashion Week events, we want to raise awareness in the media. We really need representation, to show people that we give so much to Italian culture. That’s really what we want.” 

Choice E. Imarhiagbe of the Afro Fashion Association

Choice and the other professionals interviewed point to the systemic issues that underly racism in Italy both in and out of the fashion industry, including questions of access and inclusion. For example, American designer Edward Buchanan observed than in the six years he taught in Milan, he did not have a single student of colour in his classes. The issue comes down to equity, he says: “Institutions do recruiting, and there has to be efforts to make sure students in those communities know the creative industry could be something for their future.”

Read the full article on the Daily Beast.

The issues of equity, access, and empowerment are at the core of our work as the Afro Fashion Association. Since our 2015 founding, we showcase Afro fashion through glamorous public events like our annual Afro Walk and Afro Fashion Week Milano as well as creating exhibition and outreach opportunities for designers inspired by their African heritage or culture. We are also educators, teaching wide variety of courses and workshops at universities in Italy and Africa, as well as through our work on issues of women’s empowerment and economic development as Afro Fashion Cameroon.