By Sarah Harris
Vogue has always been a staple for many people all over the UK. As a young girl, I remember religiously sifting through the magazine, despite not being able to afford a single item of the haute couture that was so elegantly sprawled across the pages. Yet, having moved to the UK from Pakistan, a developing country, it was a dream of mine to see a wider range of people exhibited in the fashion bible.
The fashion industry has been heavily criticised over the years due to its lack of diversity. This is why the news of Edward Enninful replacing the long-standing Alexandra Shulman as editor-in-chief of British Vogue came with high praise. Enninful, who has recently released his first issue for the magazine, emerged into the fashion industry at the age of 16 when he was spotted by a modelling agency scout. With his short-lived modelling career being his “baptism into fashion,” Enninful then went on to become fashion director of the publication i-D, where he turned heads for being the youngest fashion director for a large-scale magazine. Since then, Enninful has gone on to work for numerous fashion houses and publications – from Christian Dior to W Magazine.
Just months ago, British Vogue sparked controversy after they tweeted a staff picture: it was quickly pointed out by Twitter users, that the staff seemed to lack ethnic diversity and featured those from a predominantly Caucasian heritage. With the magazine being an icon for females all over the UK, readers found it disheartening to see it failed to represent those from all backgrounds. Having only placed two models of colour on the cover of the magazine, Alexandra Schulman has been condemned several times for failing to produce a magazine that was more realistic of contemporary British society.
Being from African descent, it was important to Enninful to make sure that the magazine changed its ways and become more inclusive. Thus, New Vogue was born. The December issue was released just days ago and has already had a remarkable impact on the fashion world. With a British African actress known for her feminist activism now gracing the cover of the recently released issue, it’s clear Enninful’s intent is to make sure all ethnicities and backgrounds are represented.
Not only is Enninful changing the magazine to be more representative of different heritages, but also those from different classes with their Snapchat stories often including articles aimed at students from Primary up to University. It’s clear that New Vogue is moving in the right direction and with features by Zayn Malik, Sadiq Khan, Liv Little, all paying homage to Britain, Enninful’s first issue as editor-in-chief is bound to be an interesting and relevant read.
This iconic and heartfelt move by Enninful could not have come at a better time, with fashion being more diverse than ever. Since Caitlyn Jenner’s bold move to share her personal story on the cover of Vanity Fair and the rise of models and designers such as Halima Aden, the fashion industry is increasing its pace to keep up with the ever-advancing society.
It’s important for fashion to remain a flexible and open-space for everyone, especially considering its importance as a landmark for many young people. It will be interesting to see the future of Enninful’s Vogue.