Before I started my bachelor's degree in fashion journalism at Central Saint Martins, I knew very little about the plethora of job opportunities and specialisms in the fashion industry. The feedback from my focus groups with 16-to 18-year-old teenagers studying art and design subjects at private and state schools shows that I wasn't alone. This planted the seed for Plaster's "Careers 101" series, which aims to demystify prestigious and ambiguous jobs in the industry. In Issue One, we meet ELLE UK's deputy chief sub-editor, Olivia McCrea-Hedley, PINKO's sustainability design director, Patrick McDowell, and LATEX magazine's founder and editor-in-chief, Majo Mundaca Zagal.
The other "I'm not the only one" moment occurred when the teenagers I interviewed struggled to name a fashion magazine they regularly read and enjoyed. When I asked why, they said they often felt patronised and disrespected by the celebrity style files and listicles aimed at their generation. As an antidote to their frustration, we created "Deep Dive" – an investigative series founded upon values of authenticity, accountability, objectivity and diversity. When a 16-year-old Muslim girl expressed that she wanted to "see people like [her] in fashion magazines," I strived to make it happen. In "My life, my choice," we interview the experimental makeup artist and aspiring beauty director, Salwa Rahman, who was raised in the same London borough, Tower Hamlets. We also speak to Memunatu Barrie, who is in her final year studying BA fashion textile design at Central Saint Martins.
After the murder of George Floyd and the groundswell of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, brands, industry players, and educational institutions took to social media to show solidarity and make pledges for racial diversity. Determined to replace cancel culture with accountability culture, I spent seven months investigating if their statements were sincere. You can read "Less talk, more action" to find out the verdict, along with our thoughts on what the fashion industry needs to do next to achieve meaningful, lasting change. As two directors at the nonprofit organisation, Fashion Revolution USA, tell Plaster, the global nonprofit sector needs to be held accountable too. "It's not you, it's the system" covers the causes and solutions to the lack of ethnic minorities in leadership positions within nonprofit organisations.
While our "Ones to Watch" series is lighter in tone, it doesn't refrain from discussing contentious issues. In our interview with Hoda Katebi – the founder of America's first sewing co-operative run and owned by refugee, immigrant and women of colour – we learn about a clothing manufacturing model that doesn't require sweatshop labour, exploitation and subcontracting to thrive. And if you had the Met Gala blues this May, be sure to read our profile of the fashion designer, Karina Bondareva, whose #MetGalaChallenge paper dress went viral and made Billy Porter "gag." Finally, fashion journalist and executive assistant to Hilary Alexander, Jordan Wake, explains what it took for him to break into the fashion industry without having a degree.
As the pathway leader of my course, Judith Watt, told me, “it’s education that can change fashion’s future.” I hope that Issue One of Plaster informs, inspires, and entertains you in equal measure.