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Black fashion professionals demand industry change in 'Vogue Challenge'

by Amber Milne | @hiyaimamber | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Friday, 12 June 2020 16:03 GMT

Models prepare ahead of the House of Holland catwalk show during London Fashion Week in London, Britain, September 14, 2019. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls

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Models, stylists and photographers post their own take on iconic magazine cover as industry reacts to George Floyd protests

By Amber Milne

LONDON, June 12 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Black models, stylists and fashion photographers have taken to social media to post their own versions of Vogue covers, demanding change in the industry to ensure greater diversity and opportunities.

The "Vogue Challenge", which went viral on social media, saw black fashion photographers, models, designers, stylists and make-up artists showcase their take on the cover of the iconic magazine.

"(For) far too long in the fashion industry the doors have been closed to so many black men and women," Micah Butler, creative director of fashion brand Kings Arise Clothing, said on Twitter in a thread about the challenge.

"Our culture is always embraced but we are often excluded. My prayer is that this begins to change. We need to see real change," he added.

Protests against the death of an unarmed black man, George Floyd, at the hands of police in the United States have sparked a global debate about racial inequalities - putting pressure on major brands and industry leaders to do more to foster change.

Earlier this week, Vogue's editor-in-chief, Anna Wintour, apologised for "hurtful and intolerant" mistakes by the magazine during her 30-year tenure.

"I want to say plainly that I know Vogue has not found enough ways to elevate and give space to black editors, writers, photographers, designers and other creators," Wintour said in an internal memo widely reported in the media.

"We have made mistakes too, publishing images or stories that have been hurtful or intolerant. I take full responsibility for those mistakes."

The British edition of Vogue appointed its first black editor, Ghanaian-born Edward Enninful, in 2017.

Large companies - from entertainment giants to beauty firms and sports brands - have shared posts calling for racial equality since the George Floyd protests began, with some critics accusing them of hijacking the movement for marketing.

Related stories:

U.S. companies vow to fight racism but face critics on diversity

'Treated like crap' - Black women march for equality in U.S. protests

FACTBOX-What changes are companies making in response to George Floyd protests?

(Reporting by Amber Milne; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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