Milan Fashion Week launches initiative to promote inclusion across the industry


The Fashion Hub again showcased emerging designers from under-represented communities. Pictured here are designers Glen and Bruce Proctor posing for portraits in front of their creations. Photo: AP

Milan Fashion Week highlighted diversity and, with a new initiative, promoted inclusion across the industry. The Autumn/Winter 2024 shows also saw the return of a showcase for under-represented designers.

An agreement signed Tuesday (Feb 20) by the Italian fashion council, a governmental anti-discrimination office, and a nonprofit promoting African fashion seeks to "trace, identify and fight” discriminatory practices.

The initiative will start with a broad survey to create a snapshot of the representation of women, people of colour and other underrepresented groups across the industry, from fashion houses to suppliers.

The president of the Italian National Fashion Chamber, Carlo Capasa, commented that he hopes to have results in a year.

Capasa said he was approached by Premier Giorgia Meloni ’s anti-discrimination office for the initiative "to understand what can be done better”, tapping the fashion industry as a closely watched agent of change in society.

Read more: Milan Fashion Week set to fire up runways despite cautious outlook for luxury

"I don’t think an association like ours can solve the (discrimination) problem, or it would be very simple to fix. I think we can try to make a small contribution," Capasa said, adding that the government's role was critical.

"The level of awareness has changed, which is already a step forward."

The Italian fashion industry has been under pressure since the "Black Lives Matters" movement to be more transparent about representation of people of colour in decision-making roles.

But ascertaining numbers has been stymied by privacy limits that Capasa said the new survey hopes to overcome.

He distinguished the initiative's focus behind-the-scenes from others promoting designers of colour, such as the We Are Made in Italy, which mentors designers of colour living and working in Italy, and the Black Carpet Awards, which honours diversity across sectors.

The Fashion Hub again showcased emerging designers from under-represented communities, featuring US brands BruceGlen and AnOnlyChild and British brand Sabirah.

The initiative, sponsored by Blanc Magazine’s Teneshia Carr and the Italian fashion council, offers a space to meet buyers and the fashion community on the hunt for new brands.

Bruce and Glen Proctor, the twins behind the BruceGlen brand, gave a superhero vibe in their colourful "Thrills” tracksuits in layered v-lapels recalling Michael Jackson’s jacket in his music video for Thriller. Bruce in burgundy, violet, pumpkin and umber, and Glen in bright fuchsia and eggplant with an aqua-blue base.

Read more: London Fashion Week runways celebrate multiculturalism and urban life

With a collection built around a light-catching melange of rainbow colours, BruceGlen is not about staples, but spreading joy.

"That is our goal with BruceGlen, to design clothing that ignites joy. When I look at myself in the mirror with this outfit it makes me smile,’’ Bruce said.

Deborah Latouche’s latest Sabirah collection was inspired by Dominique Deveraux, the first Black fictional character featured on the 1980s television series Dynasty.

"She wore head to toe monochrome, with a matching hat, matching bag and matching shoes. She was just everything,’’ Latouche said.

"Definitely in the UK we thought, ’we are seeing someone who has an amazing presence on television'."

Latouche recreated the Deveraux's spirit with a liquid golden dress cascading down the figure into a train and topped with a snood, a look fit for any red carpet and in keeping with the brand's modesty ethos.

Maxwell Osborne took inspiration from his Jamaican roots for his New York-based AnOnlyChild collection, creating looks out of mostly deadstock fabrics that suggest an elevated repurposing of hand-me-downs.

"My family grew up with nothing but their uniforms for school always had to be pressed and clean. But they also had no shoes,'' said Osborne, a self-taught art student who cut his teeth at Puff Daddy's brand Sean John.

”There was this joy and playfulness. This was their world." – AP

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