Racism in the fashion industry is a ridiculous concept in the 21st century. Except, here we are. Calling out our industry, one sassy pun, at a time, DiversityNOW entrant, Zahra Suleman from Ravensbourne, takes a leaf out of the medical model for addressing sickness by crating a first aid kit to address current model casting.
Filled with humour and witticisms, Suleman address the malaise of institutional racism and prescribes us with a dose of Diversity.

Your project is a fun message about providing a cure to institutional racism in fashion, what was the inspiration behind it?

I struggle to comprehend that it’s 2016 and fashion still seems to feed off the wrinkle-free figures of the slim and youthful. I’m still trying to figure out who I am and being consistently faced with tall, skinny, Caucasian models is not helping me do that. The fact that it is a visual industry makes the lack of diversity more obvious, which is why we need to keep hitting at it until we see an improvement. That’s why I came up with ‘Ibuprorace’. I felt that if I approached the subject in a more lighthearted, comical way, more people would be able to relate to it.

Are there any side effects from a lack of diversity? 

Plenty! Britain needs to stop avoiding eye contact with the lack of diversity in the industry and do something about it. We ought to be encouraged to embrace who we are and feel empowered by doing so. We should feel comfortable enough to give ourselves mental fist bumps for what we see in the mirror because surely sheer talent and creativity should conquer prejudice.

Is there a miracle cure for prejudice in the future? 

If we give ourselves an opportunity to regain focus, then I hand on heart believe we can do more. We have knowledge, democracy and the Internet. I mean, if Kim Kardashian’s bottom alone can break the Internet think what a collective society could do. Together we have the power to wipe out discrimination.

Are there any other products you’d recommend for the fashion industry?

I have actually created a range of different ‘medicines’ titled ‘Fashion Aid’ to be prescribed to anyone in the fashion industry who doesn’t believe in equality. There are eye drops that protects and soothes eyes from seeing the same sized, dull models. A nasal spray, which cleans away injustice and fights prejudice. A cream that helps relieve irritation from discrimination against genders and an anti-age discriminating inhaler.

The playfulness of your project covers up some dark truths about the casting issues still present in the industry, how do we let the industry leaders know it isn’t play time anymore?

Send them all a Fashion Aid Box! We should be enhancing and improving ourselves, educating and enlightening ourselves. I don’t believe that we are anywhere near our full potential, but we’re clever enough and dominant enough to pave the way for the next generation. It’s slowly starting to happen and while the smoke is greatly respected, we need a full on fire if we want to make a considerable transformation. Diversity is starting to become an exciting aspect in the industry but it should also be the norm. We need to make sure it doesn’t just stay a trend, but turns into a movement.

Interview: Elli Weir

Editor: Debra Bourne

Artwork: Zahra Suleman