H&M’s & Other Stories has launched the world’s first clothing collection to be fronted by trans people only – and it’s a beautiful, beautiful thing.
Cara Delevigne, the 23-year old British supermodel, actress and no label-advocate, revealed this week that she is quitting fashion. Saying that she is “a bit of a feminist” she announced that she had had it with the industry’s inherent sexism and negative effect on her body image. I’m glad that Cara is making a stand and speaking up but she shouldn’t have to quit a job because of pressures put on her because of her look or gender.
Soon after hearing this I came across the Gaze campaign, set up by my favourite Swedish clothing brand H&M/& Other Stories, and fell head over heels with the whole thing; this project challenges the notion of gender in fashion and is proof that there is some hope for the industry after all.
With Gaze & Other Stories wanted to see how a fashion campaign would turn out if trans people were allowed to shape their own vision both in front of and behind the camera. Working with five creatives, who all identify as transgender, this is what it looked like behind the scenes.
I think it’s safe to say that the result is stunning, thought-provoking and human; interesting and enticing without demeaning anyone – it is obvious that everyone working is on the same page, the same level. That, by the way, is how I like to work when I organise shoots – but all too often we see evidence of the fact that the rest of the fashion industry isn’t keen on that idea. Maybe this, a big brand taking a stand, can be step in the right direction.
It’s much like model Hari Nef puts it:
“Fashion can appeal to a wider audience of people and maybe it will lose its reputation as this scary, esoteric club where if you’re not skinny, white, thin, cis-gendered, able-bodied and rich you can’t participate.”
With Caitlyn Jenner making headlines across the world, Miley Cyrus running her Happy Hippie Instagram campaign and Laverne Cox setting hearts on fire on Netflix hit series Orange Is The New Black (not to mention the fantastic gender fluid Ruby Rose starring in the same series!), 2015 has provided much-needed visibility for the trans community in pop culture and society at large. But there is a lot of work to be done still – in fashion and elsewhere.
I am currently co-running an E.D.E.N Film project producing a film about trans lives and transphobia and although we are still very much in the initial stages of the project I am very excited to be part of it. We’re not even close to having a finished product but it’s a real privilege working with a diverse group of individuals whose voices have often been silenced; to hear their ideas and visions and to shape something together from that. Diversity is a source of inspiration, creativity and strength that every industry could benefit from tapping into.
So let’s hope that Gaze helps fashion wake up and that we see more projects like this, soon. Cara shouldn’t have to quit fashion – and Gaze shouldn’t be the first ever collection to be fronted by trans people. Let’s make sure it definitely isn’t the last one.