Recently, Vogue announced the appointment of Edward Enninful as editor to one of the most iconic fashion tomes around. Across the industry and beyond there was great excitement. Enninful is an incredible force within fashion - he was made fashion director of i-D at just 18 and has been acknowledged by the British Fashion Awards and with an OBE for services to diversity in fashion. Yet his stellar CV and impressive list of accolades are not what excited me most. Now, as the dust settles, it's time to consider what the future will hold under this new reign.
The fashion industry has been late to the party when it comes to embracing diversity. We've only just started to see more plus-size models, models of colour, transgender models, and models with prosthetics among the models that normally populate the catwalks and campaigns. Fashion shapes culture and the industry has a responsibility to shed light on issues of importance. The institution that is Vogue is doing just that, and shaking things up in the process. The appointment of Edward Enninful is poised to embolden that voice of diversity, thanks to his progressive approach to an industry that has oft been criticised for its closed ranks.
The choice of a black man to replace Alexandra Shulman shouldn't be the main topic of discussion. Yes, this is a positive step for a publication that has traditionally been steered by white, middle class women, but I don't think we should be blinded by Enninful's race or gender - ultimately he is a huge talent with incredible experience. If the roles were reversed and a woman was appointed as editor-in-chief for a men's magazine, would we be having this same conversation?
Instead, we should be celebrating how Enninful's perspective on our world will likely influence huge change and transformative effect across our industry. It's likely we will see a much more diverse use of models throughout the editorial stories and beyond. I would love to get to the point where I pick up a fashion magazine and see an array of models of all ethnicities, cultures and identities. For so long the fashion industry has been dominated by white (and usually blonde) models but as we know not everyone can relate to that aesthetic. The beauty of fashion is that we are exposed to a world of endless possibilities, so we need to show that on the pages of magazines. I'm excited to see what the future holds for diversity within the industry.
Already we are seeing evolution across the industry with the rise of modest fashion. Epitomised by Halima Aden's incredible cover for CR Fashion Book, more and more designers and brands are paying attention to Muslim women's fashion needs. While there is an element of political motivation influencing this, it's really indicative of a truer reflection of the market. We are starting to see a growing number of magazines and brands thinking in a much more inclusive way. We are all different shapes, races and sexualities, and I think Enninful will bring a new dynamic eye to the pages of Vogue.
Looking to what the future holds, I feel great optimism about how the fashion industry will integrate a mood and approach reflective of Enninful's own ethos. We are entering a new era of fashion where diversity is celebrated. It's crazy to think that an industry that talks about self-expression has historically been so slow to explore diversity and consider the masses rather than a tiny percentage of the population - but the change is happening. As a man exploring the future of womenswear at WGSN, this consideration of the bigger picture where we consider all races, genders, body types, sexualities and religions when we create stories is second nature; it's hugely encouraging to see that others are starting to be more considered too.
Having seen Andreja Pejic become the first trans model to grace the cover of GQ Portugal it got me so excited to consider a future where trans models are no longer viewed as the other sex. This was a huge step forward, to see a trans model on a men's lifestyle magazine and to be seen as a sexy, beautiful woman rather than a 'statement'. Gender is not just the biology of man or woman, gender is a beautiful complex world that we need to explore and by mixing things up with all genders working in high profile fashion positions we will see a much more diverse future.
I want to see the day (and I think it's not too far away) where the 'statement' plus-size, ethic minority or trans cover model is no longer the statement. I look forward to the day where the faces of the industry - models, editors, ambassadors - that once were a statement become the new norm. Where we no longer see 'other' as unsettling or a novelty.