Naomi Campbell on Racism in the Fashion Industry: We Are Not a Trend


Naomi Campbell is 45-years-old and—still, to this day—arguably the supermodel-iest of all supermodels. She’s walked countless runways, graced the cover of every major fashion magazine, and fronted hundreds of luxury campaigns. But despite nearly 30 years of unparalleled success—she landed her first cover, British Elle, at age 16 in 1986—she finds she still has plenty of work to do in the industry.

In a recent interview with photographer Nick Knight—part of his ShowStudio series “Subjective” in which he traces the history and current state of the fashion industry through the eyes of models—Campbell talks about how she’s standing up for black models with Balanced Diversity, the activist network she founded with Bethann Hardison and Iman.
“I don’t even like to use the word racism,” she says. “It’s more territorial-ism. They just don’t want to budge—they don’t want to change their ideas, be more open-minded—to just book a beautiful girl regardless of creed and color.”

According to Campbell’s count, only 6.8 percent of models in last season’s shows were black—and 7.9 percent Asian.

“We are not a trend—I didn’t work 28 years for it to be a trend,” Campbell says. “It shouldn’t have to be that way…It’s not just only one certain color person walking into your store and buying your clothes. It’s something I won’t stop talking about until I see a bigger improvement.”

Bonus tidbit: One of the most FOMO learnings from the video interview? Campbell calls some of the younger working models her “babies”—and says that she has a WhatsApp group text they use to keep in touch during fashion weeks around the world. What we wouldn’t do to be part of Naomi Campbell’s group text! Sigh.


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