(Disclaimer: this may get a tad bit gushy, as I wanted to genuinely express my admiration and sheer joy for this moment so grab a Kleenex)
I wanted to write a letter from the perspective of a fellow black fashion boy, who grew up reading Vogue religiously, to you the new EIC of British Vogue, a man that looks just like me.
I wanted to express to you how much your appointment means to all the black fashion insiders/fashionistas, how monumental this moment is for black excellence.
We all know that this industry is plagued by the lack of diversity, well genuine diversity that is. At the time I fell I love with fashion and my lifelong affair with it began, the industry was extremely whitewashed. It was 2005, and I had just received my first issue of vogue: The September issue with SJP on the cover. I immersed myself in that issue studying and dissecting it from cover to cover, memorizing the masthead, the ad campaigns, being captivated by the designs of Nicolas Ghesquiere and Miuccia, the distinct photographic aesthetics of Annie Leibovitz and Mario Testino, the supermodels at the time, etc.
It was magical and I had instantly been put under a spell by fashion.
However, as beautiful as the runways, editorials and ad campaigns were, there was still something missing to me. There were few people of color, people who looked like me of prominence in the industry. Fashion is beautiful and magical but it should also be based in aspirational attainability—and this is why representation matters. Yes, I had the likes of Sean Combs and the iconic Andre Leon Talley to look to and see myself represented in the industry—but even Mr. Talley left Vogue due to the glass ceiling. There were little to no POC in positions of power.
It sends a huge message to the industry that diversity must be a priority. The EIC’s of the four glossy Vogue editions (US, Paris, Italia and British Vogue) have always been visionaries of shifting culture and I have no doubt that your tenure will be just as revolutionary as your Vogue predecessors/contemporaries.
With all my heart I am so overjoyed by this moment. Let me rephrase that: I’m beyond overjoyed by this historic moment.
It’s more than just a job. It’s a cultural shift, a push towards authentic diversity, a HUGE step towards shattering the proverbial glass ceiling. I seriously don’t take your appointment lightly. It symbolizes so much. I think of the current young black fashion lovers who are in the midst of beginning their love affair with fashion and how now they have you to look up to.
You are to this generation what Andre Leon Talley was to myself and generations prior.
Representation matters, it truly does.
It warms my heart to think that a fellow young black fashion boy will pick up a British Vogue (or in this digital media age check online) and know that a black man, someone who looks like them edited it. That’s so major. All the minds you’re going to inspire, the blueprint this next venture in your tenured fashion career will lay out for future Shelton’s and black kids, I can’t wait.
So I say thank you. Thank you for always pushing for diversity, for helping to pave the way for future generations, for being authentic and helping to chip away at that horrendous glass ceiling. Thank you Mr. Enninful.
A Young Black Fashion Kid
Lead Fashion Critic, Shelton Boyd