Fashion reflects the times in which we live. But sometimes, it also is responsible for reshaping that reality. One way it does this is by breaking taboos and bringing marginalised ideas into the mainstream.
At Brown Boy we have always cherished this soft power and galvanized it to start dialogue or push people to take notice. Earlier this year in New York I did a photoshoot with a transgender model for my brand Brown Boy. Many people questioned this decision. Most believed it to be a total branding disaster. It could be, but when have we ever done things considering the consequences? So I did go ahead with the shoot and I am glad I did so.
This experience gave me an understanding about someone different from me. Her stories and experiences gave an insight about the hardships and challenges, someone marginalized, goes through. I was so embarrassed about how misinformed and ignorant I was. There are several reasons why this campaign has become so important and particularly for a brand that has originated from India. Most of us are ignorant about LGBT issues or simply ignore their presence. Hence even minor representation helps in starting a dialogue and opens us towards acknowledging the presence of different people. And accepting them.
Growing up in a society that is extremely harsh towards the LGBT community, I have unconsciously participated in this marginalization and in this case ragging of the trans community. Somehow I felt a strong responsibility to use the medium of my brand Brown Boy to bring this lack of representation, stigma and inhuman treatment of LGBT people to attention. I strongly believe that young millennials like us need to and can take steps to bring such substantial change in society.
I am not sure if this beautiful campaign is a step towards diversity in the industry or if it will inspire the higher-ups in the fashion industry to diversify or to who we see on magazine covers. What matters to me is that even if one young person who sees this campaign realizes that it's perfectly okay to be who they are. And that they are beautiful and should only be proud and accept themselves.
This also makes me think hard about how to flex our fashion muscle next. How we can lead the way to open doors for other underrepresented people—and not just to campaigns or the ramp, but to the design studios and magazine offices and corporate boardrooms, too. Fashion has always been non-conformist and now it needs to prove that by accepting diversity. Trans people, and people of color, women and men of all ages and shapes and sizes, and representatives of various nationalities and class deserve to be seen, but they deserve as well the opportunity to do. Visibility is only ever a first step.