Edward Enninful was named as the first black and male editor of British Vogue on Monday.
The 45-year-old’s appointment has been seen as a rather radical one for the historic magazine. In previous work, Enninful has taken a diverse approach to the fashion and beauty worlds (and everything in between).
Known for his many accomplishments and forward-thinking vision, the Brit, who migrated to the United Kingdom from Ghana as a kid, spearheaded Vogue Italia‘s “Black Issue” in 2008, which featured only black models. Enninful hoped it would end the “white-out that dominates the catwalk and magazines,” according to the New York Times. The issue was so successful that an extra 40,000 copies had to be printed.
In addition to Vogue Italia, Enninful has held positions at American Vogue, i-D, and W throughout his two-decade career. Last year, he was awarded the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to diversity in the fashion industry. His predecessor at British Vogue, Alexandra Shulman, received the same accolade in 2004.
Just like Shulman, Enninful is extremely outspoken when it comes to the fashion industry’s many shortcomings. But where Shulman fought for body diversity, Enninful pushes for racial equality.
From his prominent positions and through his powerful friends — which include Naomi Campbell, Kate Moss, and a slew of other models, celebrities, and “it” girls — he’s provided platforms for models of color.
“It’s very easy to say, oh, there’s one black model in a show and one black or Asian model in an advertising photograph, so we’ve filled the quota,” he told the Telegraph in 2016. “No, it should be a continuous conversation. It shouldn’t even be an issue as far as I’m concerned. Beauty’s beauty.”
Enninful is expected to majorly shake things up. When he takes up his new position on August 1, he’ll be one of the only black figures at the top of the fashion industry. Most major designers and their chief executives are white, as are the majority of fashion magazine staffs.
It’s a particularly smart hire for British Vogue, which has been heavily criticized for taking 12 years to feature another black model on the cover of the publication after Naomi Campbell’s solo 2004 appearance.
Diversity on magazine covers is improving — but only slightly. Fashionista reported a 15.5 percent increase in the number of models of color starring on covers from 2015 to 2016. In 2016, British Vogue‘s only nonwhite cover star was Rihanna.
“He’s fearless,” Anna Wintour, Vogue‘s editor in chief, told the New York Times. “At a time when values are being challenged, Edward always stands up for what he believes in.”
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