Yesterday saw the announcement of Samira Nasr appointment as the new Editor-in-Chief of American Harper’s Bazaar, the longest-running fashion magazine in the world. Nasr is Canadian-born, half-Lebanese, half-Trinidadian, and is the first black editor in the publication’s history.
This was welcome news in a week in which many of us have been facing up to the racism that has run through the fashion industry for decades.
There have been shocking realisations that should have been recognised sooner – companies employing pitiful percentage of ethnic minorities and a negligible amount, if any, in senior positions; brands that haven’t posted a non-white face on their Instagram feed for, literally, years; the vast amount of brands underpaying the vast amount of black and brown people who make their clothes; PR events where only white influencers and press have been invited; organisations who have covered up structural racism or racist abuse; retail stores that have been consistently unwelcoming to black customers; veteran white editors continuing to make ignorant comments about black models, even now; black businesses ignored by journalists; black and brown PRs who find their clients always overlooked by white stylists and editors. With our silence and willingness to accept the status quo, many of us have been sanctioning all of these things.
But after the wake-up call comes the action. I’ve spoken to contacts in PR this week who have started to implement change – challenging clients about their messaging; telling their bosses they don’t want to work with certain brands. Speaking out is the first step; the second is for those in charge to make real, positive and lasting change.
“It is a thrilling challenge to be in a position to reimagine what a fashion magazine can be in today’s world,” said Nasr in her eloquent video statement. We are all in a position to reimagine what a fashion industry can be. Let’s make it thrilling.