British Fashion Council outlines mission to celebrate British black fashion and culture

The British Fashion Council (BFC) today announces a long-term initiative to celebrate and promote British black fashion and culture.

Following the launch of its Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee in October, the project is the second initiative from the BFC’s Institute of Positive Fashion (IPF) and is created in partnership with the Black Oriented Legacy Development Agency (BOLD), an agency founded by Andrew Ibi, Harris Elliott and Jason Jules to action change in society, working across fashion and advertising culture to amplify authentic race narratives.

Entitled The Missing Thread, the initiative will aim to reference, educate and present untold Black stories and design contributions that are pivotal foundations within society.

The project is dedicated to and inspired by the late British fashion designer Joe Casely-Hayford, who paved the way for Black designers working in the UK today, and will work in collaboration with i-D magazine towards a dedicated library of Black fashion literature at Central Saint Martins, Joe Casely-Hayford’s alma mater (1975–77).

The BFC also sets out to ensure that, going forward, fashion design and history in the UK will be taught with ‘an appreciation and awareness of the cultural contributions of all races to the fabric of British society.’ The project plans to 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,’ with a longer term goal to create the first ‘Black Fashion & Culture’ undergraduate education programme in the UK. This specialism will document the History of Black Fashion & Culture as well as offer a provision to train and educate future fashion practitioners.

“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,” said Caroline Rush, Chief Executive of BFC.

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.”

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

The IPF has three pillars: Environment, People and Community. Earlier in October the BFC launched the inaugural IPF project under the environment pillar, The Waste Ecosystem Project, designed to produce solutions on how the fashion industry can responsibly manage inventory, reduce, and move to circular business operations. Today’s initiative falls under People and there will be a third project falling under Community still to come.


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