Anifa Mvuemba, designer of the luxury label Hanifa, presented her collection Pink Label Congo on May 22— just shy of two weeks ago. In the midst of the pandemic, many brands are scurrying to pivot while stay at home orders and social distancing rules remain in place and the fate of September fashion week remains unknown. However, last month the DMV designer announced that she would be showing her latest collection via a live streamed 3D virtual experience.
Then here comes Forbes, who published an article Thursday championing a Prada-backed AI startup Bigthinx, in partnership with Fashinnovation, stating the startup “will live stream the first fully digital 3D Virtual Fashion Show (including digitised human models) since the coronavirus pandemic forced the fashion industry online,” when indeed that is untrue.
Anifa, a Black woman just did it.
“This will be the first time many fashion professionals have seen virtual fashion since the industry-wide discussions about implementing it ramped up, following the coronavirus-induced lockdown,” the article continues.
Somehow so many of us (roughly 10,000 people) saw it happen just 13 days ago, but it slipped under the radar of Forbes, who previously featured Anifa for cultivating the intersection of fashion and versatility. In fact many publications, including Teen Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Afrotech took note of the groundbreaking imprint Anifa made on the fashion industry that night.
Not only did Anifa flawlessly execute a virtual experience, featuring a size-inclusive model lineup, the collection was available for purchase at the conclusion of the show. A collection, which is now sold out. Astonished by the unbelievable execution and innovation virtual viewers witnessed, some called for publications including Forbes to feature her. And the magazine indeed penned a feature, which makes this even more ironic.
This morning upon publication, marketer and podcast co-host Joymarie Parker called out Forbes for not giving Anifa credit. The outpour of understandable disdain for said erasure and support for Anifa swiftly overcame Twitter. Various users called for lawsuits and trademarks, for which Anifa humbly responded that she has an amazing attorney who will handle the situation on the backend.
All too often Black women and Black people are erased from the very narratives they create–from fashion to hair or music. The erasure of a Black woman, in the name of a company backed by Prada who used outrage marketing with its imagery of Blackface monkey keychains, is a slap in the face. The lack of due-diligence feels intentional. We do know that some research was done, as the article mentions others who have implemented 3D renderings into fashion design such as Digi-Gxl and The Fabricant. However Hanifa was left out.
Many comments in response to Forbes’ failure to acknowledge Anifa read “Give Anifa her flowers!” And we’re here to do just that. In wake of the violence and killing of Black men and women, and the current unrest nationwide, we won’t continue to be overlooked and unacknowledged, in any capacity. Our stories and our truths matter and Thursday’s publication by Forbes is far from the truth.
Forbes has now taken the word “first” out of the title and added a disclaimer which reads, “Since the publication of this article I have received a number of requests to mention that the Hanifa brand held a digital fashion show using similar techniques, which was streamed on Instagram last month, and was mentioned in a Forbes article two weeks ago. The title of my article has been amended to reflect this, and no offence was intended to the Hanifa brand or their fans.”
The Forbes article has now been completely removed and a rep from Prada has confirmed that the brand, “is not involved in any fashion show with Bigthinx or Fashinnovation.”