I was invited by ADAN × Zalando to hold a keynote about the topic of Black Careers In Fashion. What is the status quo in the German fashion landscape? It should be noted that there are still too few BPoC in leading positions in the fashion industry, why is that? There is now a generation that has the necessary know-how and experience. In my keynote, I will begin to explain why Black people are hard to find in decision-making positions and what role colonial history plays in all of this. The keynote Impact of Black Culture on Fashion questions, How have Black People influenced Fashion historically? or What is the cause of the misrepresentation of Black designers and models in the fashion industry? 

The tragic death of George Floyd and the subsequent protests have finally led some German fashion companies to reflect on their corporate philosophy to date, raising some questions concerning their corporate culture. How diverse are we? How inclusive are we? Some companies have already found a “solution” that is ideal for them: the use of Blackness, and tokenism. In short, more black models in campaigns, so that the fashion company looks beautifully diverse when in fact it was not so interested in appearing to be such years ago or by hiring one BPoC person. Following this, a few designers of African origin have been featured in magazines with the addition “Black Owned Brand” and there has been more social media content with BPoC.

This kind of fashion revolutionary movement is using fashion as a vehicle, medium, organ, or instrument to upturn foreign stereotypes and rewrite positive, fascinating narratives for itself. The brilliance of fashion and the interaction of African influence and European make it unique. Fashion allows us to evoke. Therefore we can demonstrate the concerns from an African perspective that feels comfortable.

“Generation Africa is the chance to open a new window on one of today‘s most creative scenes – says Lapo Cianchi, head of Special Projects at Pitti Immagine – and to give emerging fashion designers the opportunity to have a spotlight, both in terms of communication and real business opportunities.

The time of Black people being an inspiration source without benefiting from it is coming to an end.

Let’s be honest, the fashion industry is shaped by colonial thought patterns and western ideologies. This norm has existed and been perpetuated globally for decades without ever being questioned. It is high time though, that we critically question the system and structures that set the conditions for the international fashion industry. 

What beliefs and values is this industry built on? It is a system that was built on the exploitation and oppression of Black people. A brief excursion into colonial times is needed at this point. You can have full insight into my keynote on the ADAN website! 

Chris Seydou


Willi Wear