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The fashion industry has been too white, too skinny and too rich for too long

Basma Khalifa


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Clad in black leather, Beyonce paid tribute to the Black Panther Party of the 1960s during her 2016 Super Bowl half-time performance. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Clad in black leather, Beyonce paid tribute to the Black Panther Party of the 1960s during her 2016 Super Bowl half-time performance. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Getty Images

Clad in black leather, Beyonce paid tribute to the Black Panther Party of the 1960s during her 2016 Super Bowl half-time performance. Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Fashion has always been political. From Vivienne Westwood highlighting women’s rights, climate change and wealth inequality on her catwalks, to the 2016 Super Bowl halftime show where Beyoncé and her backing dancers entered the stadium clad in black leather and black berets, paying tribute to the Black Panther Party of the 60s. Or even the infamous “Make America Great Again” caps which Donald Trump made a cornerstone of his presidential election campaign.

Activists, celebrities and brands continue to use fashion as a vehicle to make political statements and speak on social injustices. Because whether you care about fashion and choose to spend your yearly income on the hottest designer gear, or you refuse to succumb to the societal pressures of looking good, both say something about your view of the world.

But with great activism comes great responsibility and in recent weeks, we’ve seen the demise of so many brands that seemed “on-trend” on the surface but which were perpetuating injustices. As I watched everything fall apart under the tensions of the Black Lives Matter movement, I wondered how an industry worth over €29bn worldwide had been able to increasingly thrive through so many economic upheavals while also becoming so incredibly tone-deaf to their consumers when it came to racial discrimination?