Model Ebonee Davis and Harlem’s Fashion Row founder Brandice Daniel are leading the charge for a more diverse fashion industry. And yesterday (July 1), both women stopped by the 2017 ESSENCE Festival Beauty & Style stage to discuss exactly how they’ve overcome specific challenges in their respective careers.
Davis, who was recently featured in the Pantene Gold Series campaign, spoke out about the trouble she had getting signed as a Black model and the “Eurocentric beauty standards” that are glorified by the fashion industry.
“I was straightening my hair because they said that I couldn’t wear natural hair,” said Davis. “I was wearing weaves because they said that was the standard of beauty that I had to subscribe to -the Eurocentric standard. Ultimately, telling me that the way I was born isn’t beautiful and it isn’t good enough.”
The struggle for representation isn’t just with models, but designers as well. Brandice Daniel, wants to give Black designers a space to be seen.
“We’re spending 22 billion a year on apparel…but less than 1% of [black designers] are represented in department stores,” said Daniel, who began Harlem’s Fashion Row in 2007. “That lit a fire under me.”
That flame grew into a organization that puts on packed out events and celebrates designers and celebrities that contribute to Black fashion.
“I want designers that put in the work.,” she continued. “Those who really have a different point of view and an amazing collection or aesthetic – I want them to be seen.”
Utilizing their platforms to make change, both ladies will continue to not only shine light on the fashion industry’s diversity issues, but create opportunities for others as well.
“Who are our role models… if all of the successful Black women in my industry are being removed from the culture,” said Davis. “I have had the opportunity to amplify my message, amplify my voice. I want people to know is that no mater who are, no matter where you come from, not matter what you look like you’re beautiful.”