Supermodel Iman Boycotts Designer Phoebe Philo Products Due to Non-hiring of Black Models

If you have been sleeping on the race discrimination debate ongoing in the fashion industry at large this fashion season, it’s time to wake up. I shared the legal implications with my audience and invite you all to read the article here.

In the meantime, Supermodel Iman continues the fight including calling out names of “racist” designers and brands who continue to neglect the hiring of black models.

Ladybrille designers, I have had the privilege of interviewing so many designers over the years. I have heard all kinds of excuses from African and Black designers for why they won’t use black models for their marketing and publicity campaigns. Unless that black model is already a recognized face, many default to white models because they feel that it is a way to get their foot in the door and be respected among peers and customers alike. For designers of color on the continent, they sort of don’t have much of a choice. In the diaspora, that is a common thing I hear.

Iman is saying no to such discriminatory practice. If you are engaging in such practice, look at where you are, since you have been employing such tactics. Clearly, that method is not really working monetarily, otherwise you would be a household name or close to that. Indeed, studies conclusively show that blacks are the highest purchasers of consumer goods. You have to definitely re-think your strategy and know the people who buy your clothes. A white woman is less likely to immediately buy your goods when she can’t relate to your culture than the African diaspora or black hollywood who are now seen forging relationships with Africa’s entertainment industry, in droves.

“Racism on the runway has been a hot button issue for years now–but it’s really gaining speed this season.

Somali-born supermodel Iman, Naomi Campbell, and Diversity Coalition activist Bethann Hardison recently joined forces to call more attention to the blatant lack of diversity in fashion, which Iman tells the Evening Standard “sends a message to our young girls that they are not good enough, they are not beautiful enough.” Earlier this month, the coalition sent open letters to international fashion councils, scolding them for the runway white-out they seem to support–either knowingly, or through ignorance.

But while Iman has thus far gone the diplomatic route–describing designer and casting agents’ actions as racist rather than their persons–she’s now admitting that she purposely boycotts certain labels’ merchandise for their racist tendencies. One particularly guilty designer, in her eyes, is Céline creative director Phoebe Philo.

“She’s a cool girl,” Hardison told the Standard of Philo. “But Céline has never had a colored person showing in their collection. Ever. And yet, they have the best accessories; every black woman who has money buys her accessories.”

“Not me,” Iman shot back. “I walk the walk. I can get another It bag. I have my wallet. I make a conscious decision not to buy that stuff.””

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-Uduak Oduok

Ladybrille Magazine

Founded in 2007, Ladybrille® Magazine is a California based pioneer digital publication demystifying the image of Africans in the west through contemporary African fashion and celebrating the brilliant woman in business and leadership, with an emphasis on the African woman in the diaspora. Our coverage includes stories on capital, access to markets, expertise, hiring and retention, sales, marketing, and promotions.

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