MILAN (AP) A digital show of five Italian fashion designers of African descent opens Milan Fashion Week on Wednesday, a tangible result of a campaign launched last summer by the only black Italian designer belonging to the Milan Fashion Chamber .
After some initial resistance and a slow start, designer Stella Jean credits the Italian National Fashion Chamber with a lot of goodwill pushing through an enhanced collaboration with five young designers, including funding and partnerships with Italian suppliers. .
When you want to do something, you can do it immediately, said Jean, one of the founders of the Black Lives Matters in Italian Fashion campaign. I have worked hard to overcome this gradualism that is part of the mentality of a certain part of the Italian fashion world.
She kicked off the campaign with designer Edward Buchanan and Afro Fashion Week Milano founder Michelle Ngomo after fashion houses expressed solidarity with the Black Lives Matters movement on Instagram, demanding they put action behind their commitments. on social networks. Jean, who got her break when Giorgio Armani invited her to perform in his theater in 2014, said it was important to focus on Italians of African descent to combat one of the first obstacles the campaign encountered: claims that there were no black designers. in Italy.
The collaboration with the Italian Fashion Council will continue in September, when five new designers from minority communities in Italy will be in the spotlight during Fashion Week. And Jean is also creating an event featuring designers and artisans from Africa, with the aim of creating partnerships between Italian fashion houses who can learn sustainable production methods in exchange for training in the global fashion system. .
You talk about sustainability ad nauseam here, and what I’m seeing is anything but sustainable, trust me. In the countries where I work, people 99% work sustainably, out of necessity, restriction or desire, said Jean.
Jean also works on a database of African craft techniques, fabrics, patterns and other cultural references. The Italian-Haitian creator sees this decision as a bulwark against cultural appropriation that does not economically benefit Africans and as a means of avoiding racist blunders.
Valerie Steele, museum director at the Fashion Institute of Technologys, said many jeans ideas could be replicated in the United States and elsewhere.
Steele, who owns some of the Jeans designs in the collection, recorded a conversation with the Italian designer for Black History Month, which airs Thursday on the FITs YouTube channel to highlight Jeans’ role in the revolution of the Italian fashion.
Steele said black designers are also under-represented in the United States, despite the role black culture has played in inspiring fashion there.
When a few years ago we did an exhibition on black fashion designers, which was an international show that Stella was on, we were very shocked to find that on Vogue.com something ridiculous like 1% of the designers presented were blacks. , Steele said.
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