British Fashion Council’s IPF Launches Long Term Project to Celebrate Black Fashion & Culture

The British Fashion Council (BFC)’s Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF) announces its second project, The Missing Thread, in partnership with the Black Oriented Legacy Development Agency (BOLD). The project will celebrate British Black Fashion & Culture from 1975 to now through a series of programmed events, culminating in a major exhibition in summer 2022.

The fashion industry currently lacks a resource of vital Black British contributions from a cultural, design and socio-political perspective, having erased many important historical narratives. The cost of neglecting these stories is detrimental to the industry as a whole. Going forward, design knowledge and history must be taught with an appreciation and awareness of the cultural contributions of all races to the fabric of British society.

The project is inspired by Joe Casely-Hayford who paved the way for Black designers working in the UK today and altered the course of this trajectory. This project honours the powerful legacy that he left behind him.

The overall purpose of the project is to reference, educate and present many untold Black cultural narratives and design contributions that are pivotal foundations within society. The project will address shortcomings in academic provisions and practice at Secondary, Further Education and Higher Education level by charting the rise and impact of ‘UK Black Style Culture’. A key long-term objective of the project is to create the first ‘Black Fashion & Culture’ undergraduate education programme in the UK – with the opportunity to export globally. This specialism will document the History of Black Fashion & Culture as well as offer a provision to train and educate future fashion practitioners.  Additionally, the project aims to amplify race narratives in fashion education by working in collaboration with i-D towards a dedicated library of Black fashion literature at Central Saint Martins, Joe Casely-Hayford’s alma mater (1975–77).

Today, 28th October 2020 at 4pm, a special SHOWstudio panel dedicated to Joe and his vision will look at Britishness now and what contribution the fashion industry must make towards a new era. The panel, titled Joe Casely-Hayford: An Icon For Our Times, will be chaired by Andrew Ibi with Caroline Rush, Ekow Eshun, Karen Binns and Walé Adeyemi.

The IPF will work closely with BOLD on this project. The agency, founded by Andrew Ibi, Harris Elliott and Jason Jules is aimed at actioning change in society, consulting across fashion and advertising culture to amplify authentic race narratives.

Andrew Ibi, Co-Founder of BOLD, said “The historical significance of black fashion culture is essential to future fashion practitioners and their progress within the industry. The Missing Thread is a vehicle to examine past, present and future – to contextualise black fashion culture with authority. Retrospective acknowledgement and recognition of black cultural contribution are key components in framing the project.” 

Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of BFC, said “The need for far greater accountability in our industry has become increasingly apparent over the last year. Black fashion contributions are at the core of Britain’s reputation as a creative hub yet continue to be overlooked. We are extremely excited to work with BOLD on this project which aims at restoring and acknowledging cultural contributions to one of the UK’s most creative industries.”

The project team is seeking funding through various means with opportunities to be a Founding Partner of an 18-month programme including lectures, book, key events, sub-installations, discussions, and shows/presentations culminating in the exhibition.

The IPF helps the British fashion industry lead in the goal to be more resilient and circular through global collaboration and local action. Leveraging global expertise and resources, the IPF adopts standards, develops and establishes frameworks to reset and create a new blueprint for the industry. Through identifying common challenges, the IPF calls for collective action and investment in innovation to make a difference.

This year, the BFC launched its Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee, an essential part of its long-term plan to fight prejudice and galvanise the industry into action. The Committee is made up of industry and BFC representatives and its role is to address key challenges facing minority communities in gaining fair representation within the fashion industry. To find out more about the BFC’s Diversity & Inclusion strategy, click here.

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