Since her debut in 2010, Sudanese model Ajak Deng has walked 14 seasons of New York—and international—fashion week, amounting to a total of 95 shows, she’s been featured in 13 fashion campaigns, including Barney’s Spring 2016 campaign and the coveted Scandal Collection for The Limited, covered 5 magazines (both stateside and international), and amassed a following of more than 70K followers on Instagram. She’s a big deal. So when she announced via Instagram that she was “officially done with the fashion industry,” we all took note. The news comes as a complete surprise in the wake of New York Fashion week where Deng walked in a number of top shows including Marc Jacobs’ revolutionary show, which featured a cast of more than 20 models of color.
Put your best foot forward. I am happy to announce that I am officially done with the fashion industry, I will be moving back to Australia In order to live the life that I fully deserved. Which is real life. I can no longer deal with the fakes and the lies. My life is too short for this dramatic life. I am thankful and grateful for every sweet souls that I have crossed path with.
It remains unsaid whether or not Deng is retiring her comp card as a result of racial tensions that models of color often experience in the fashion industry, but she seems content to be done with it all. Her departure is sad for a number of reasons; the primary one being that we cannot afford to loose Black talent such as hers in an industry that is already gravely lacking in terms of color. It is also deeply unsettling that models of color are seemingly being pushed out or leaving the industry on the basis of what one can only assume to be tied to racial aggressions— the “lies and fakes” that Deng speaks of. While diversity on the runways looked promising during the recent shows at New York Fashion Week, we can only hope that color becomes a staple on the runway and not just a sporadic occurrence. One thing’s for sure, 26-year-old Ajak Deng isn’t here for drama and she’s done with waiting for the fashion industry to change.