Black designers pave the way for the next generation at Milan Fashion Week

Due to the restrictions of the Covid-19 lockdown, this year’s Milan Fashion Week had to be held online. The We are Made in Italy digital event was filmed in Milan’s grand Palazzo Clerici and hosted the spring/summer 2021 collections of Fabiola Manirakiza, Mokodu Fall, Claudia Gisele Ntsama, Karim Daoudi and Joy Meribe.

Black designers presented collections in a show aimed at raising awareness of the lack of diversity in the industry. The five designers are part of the Black Lives Matter in Italian Fashion group, a name inspired by the international movement leading worldwide or protests against racial injustice. They were mentored by Italian-Haitian Stella Jean, the only Black member of the Italian fashion council, who is campaigning against racism in the industry.

“Made in Italy was represented about the world as being a white concept, now it is no longer like this. The new Italy is not this and does not want to be this. In Italy, we have a racial problem and if we don’t start opening the wound to heal it, the wound will never heal,” she said.

The Italian fashion designer is demanding the sector’s governing body to support Black designers and has called on Italian fashion houses to do more to confront racism. She sent a letter, titled “Do #BLM in Italian Fashion?” to the president and 14 executive board members of the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, which organizes the Milan shows.

In her letter, Jean suggested a couple of changes. She suggests creating a public database of Italian fashion companies and their percentages of Black employees. She also mentioned that “companies who wish to continue to draw free inspiration from Black culture, Made in Africa will provide a list of African artisans who can train and collaborate with Italian companies so that brands no longer create collections simply inspired by Africa but are consciously created with Africa,” explains Jean.

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