From the moment he became the youngest ever Fashion Director of i-D at 19 years old right through to his contributions to W, American Vogue and campaigns for everyone from Calvin Klein to Comme des Garçons, fashion favourite and i-D family Edward Enninful OBE, has consistently created a sense of inclusivity through his casting.
"Anyone who knows me knows that the message of diversity is quite literally part of my DNA," Edward tells i-D. The recently appointed Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue was a natural choice to direct a new campaign for Gap that celebrates the idea that we are all one, regardless of race, size, sexuality or gender.
Focusing on the iconic Gap basic white tee, Bridging the Gap is a representation of Edward's optimistic view of American style, brought to life by a dynamic cast, including rapper Wiz Khalifa as well as four i-D cover stars, Adwoa Aboah, Lineisy Montero, Alek Wek and Fernanda Ly. The short film also features a wealth of talent from film, fashion and sport, such as model and actress Christie Brinkley, models Casil McArthur, Ellen Rosa and Maria Borges, champion fencer Miles Chamley-Watson, actor Jonathan Groff, model and actress Priyanka Chopra, Instagram star Jasmine Sanders and actress Yara Shahidi. All dancing along to Boney M's Sunny.
What is your definition of diversity?
Wiz: Diversity is everyone being their true self. I think great strides are being made but there's always room for more acceptance and love and positivity. I think of fashion, TV, music and entertainment as platforms to showcase and express diversity -- both for influencers and for the masses.
Edward: Diversity is a continuing conversation, which always has been and always will be important. You could say slowly but surely the world is changing, in a good way -- equality in all forms is more and more part of the global conversation and people are celebrating diversity and individuality. I like that diversity is now so much more than just black and white, male and female. It has opened up to be about age, size, religion, sexuality. People who have historically been marginalised are raising their voices. We've got to keep this conversation going. I truly believe in brighter days ahead. I always say it is very important that there are diverse people behind the scenes and not just in the limelight.
As a cast, many have done brilliant campaigns around mental health, diversity, health, migration, mental health, racial equality, sexuality and feminism. This is a great group of people dedicated to making changes through fashion and art. How about yourself -- what issues are important to you and how do you explore, or hope to explore, them in your work?
Wiz: What drew me to this project in the first place was that each one of us came from such a different place. We all had a lot to bring to the table, whether it's a different experience or message or audience to share this project with. There wasn't one person I admire more than another -- maybe Edward for bringing us all together, but otherwise everyone really is admirable in their own way.
Edward: I admire every member of this cast. They are all very special and live their truths to the fullest. They make the world a more tolerant and educated place with their incredible efforts. The only way to protect the future and move forward on a path of equality and opportunity is to come together, and raise our voices for truth and the common good. We must tell our personal stories and listen to the stories of others. As global citizens we have the power to break barriers and make changes, and we are stronger together. No matter how different one person is from the next, at our core we are all the same. Anyone who knows me knows that the message of diversity is quite literally part of my DNA. Diversity builds community -- it builds authenticity and esteem, expression, creativity and hope.
Text Hattie Collins