New Menswear Campaign Confronts European Racism Toward African Migrants

By Sameer Rao Feb 02, 2016

Menswear brand Ikiré Jones has produced a new fashion campaign that directly confronts negative assumptions about African refugees.

The "After Migration" campaign was shot in Florence, Italy, where the collection also debuted on the runway at the Ethical Fashion Initiative‘s "Generation Africa" show between January 12 and 15. It features first-time models that the company found through a local organization that houses asylum seekers, according to Okayplayer. Ikiré Jones’s creative director, Wale Oyéjidé, designed the collection and the campaign features writings that are critical of the fashion world’s racist attitudes towards African refugees. One stanza, from the campaign‘s third image, reads

Did you recline comfortably in your beach chairs,
and gaze out into the horizon,
as our children washed up onto your shores?
Did you sneer at your newspaper headlines over a warm breakfast,
and curse your strange new neighbors,
as the media whispered that we were the ones to fear? 

Okayplayer quotes Oyéjidé on his multifaceted inspiration as follows:

“I thought it was important for many reasons to put them in front of the camera, not as props, but to convey their unique perspectives,” Oyéjidé says of his models. Many western designers use Africa and Africans as backdrops. By placing “an emaciated model wearing high fashion in front of country people in some remote village” says Oyéjidé, these designers fail to give Africans agency.

“There were also other underlying issues I wanted to address—the lack of black models in high fashion, the lack of employment opportunities given to migrants/asylum seekers from all over the world, and also providing an opposing view to the negative portrayal of migrants in the media. It was a multi-layered concept,” he says.

Check out the "After Migration" campaign on Ikiré Jones’s official website by clicking here

(H/t Okayplayer

*Note: Piece has been updated to correct misspelling of designer’s name.