adut akech owned 2018
The model did cover after cover, catwalk after catwalk, and used her platform to support refugees.
Photography Campbell Addy. Fashion director Alastair McKimm.
What a year Adut Akech has had. The Sudanese-Australian model made her debut in 2017, but it was this year that she really blew up. Her exquisite face was everywhere, as Adut landed cover after cover -- including two for i-D -- and was a favourite on the catwalk, strutting for Chanel, Givenchy, Prada, Versace, Burberry... the list goes on. Amidst her massive success, the model, who fled South Sudan with her family as refugees, has also spent 2018 using her platform to push for change.
How would you describe your 2018?
It was absolutely mind-blowing! I'm still trying to believe that everything actually happened.
What were your stand out moments of the year?
Being on the i-D cover twice was a great honour -- many many thanks to the team for believing in me. Other highlights were attending the Met Gala with Pierpaolo and the Valentino team, being part of the covers for British Vogue, Vogue Korea, Vogue Italy… and, of course, my homeland, Vogue Australia. That was a goal I always had and they did such a wonderful job with the final story, which was a beautiful, genuine reflection of my life back home.
I also got to start working with the UN Refugee Agency to highlight the plight of refugees, speak at the Business of Fashion VOICES conference, be nominated as Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards… like I said earlier, I'm still trying to believe everything actually happened.
What were your New Year's resolutions for 2018, and did you stick to them?
I didn't have anything too specific -- I just wanted to perform my best and make my family proud.
This year, you've really used your platform to speak out and create change. What motivated you?
I always knew that my story was on the more unique side, and for a long time I wanted to gain the confidence and opportunity to share it somehow. People should understand that I will always identify as a refugee, and I hope for people to truly believe in the potential of all refugees to make positive contributions, wherever they land. The most important part is for others take a chance on us from the beginning -- to see us as fellow humans just trying to do our best for ourselves and our future generations.
What changes have you seen in the industry this year?
I feel that the industry has really come to embrace its role as a cultural force of change. Rather than including minority models for the sake of tokenism, I sense genuine celebration of our backstories and culture. Perhaps this has something to do with more and more minority figures taking on key roles that influence all the rest. Whatever the reason, I look forward to more progress!
What changes would you like the fashion industry to make going forward?
I would like for the industry to not only understand and celebrate the backstories of us models, but also the needs of their customers and overall society outside of fashion. I think everyone wants to see the industry speak up more about necessary changes, whether they are related to inclusivity, sustainability, etc… all those things can influence the world outside of ourselves. Let's not be afraid to shift our ways and break tradition -- we're supposed to be impactful, persuasive game-changers.
Why do you feel a responsibility as a model to try and create change?
The platform modelling has given me is so valuable, it would be a shame if I didn't take advantage of it. Many people used to say, "Oh, but she's just a model." But I want them to say, "Oh, let's have confidence in the model's perspective."
Tell us about the campaigns you’ve supported this year...
My focus is on highlighting the global refugee crisis alongside UNHCR. As someone who grew up in one of their refugee camps, it is now a personal connection that I want to strengthen in order to support others who are still struggling. Despite the headlines covering the issue less these days, this is an ongoing matter that cannot be overlooked. I want all refugees to find a proper home and be given the opportunities that they deserve. If you haven't given as much thought to this lately, you can follow the Instagram account @refugees to start learning more again.
What made you feel most proud this year?
Just getting through it all! The endless travel and jet lag can really take a toll on me, but with the support of everyone around me I pulled through. I'm definitely ready for the holidays, but I'm also ending this year reminding myself of just how much I have to be thankful for.
Who are the people that really made your year?
My family. I don't know what I would do without their encouragements and love. Also those in the industry who believed and continue to believe in me. I want to continue doing my absolute best for them. My online fans, who have encouraged and supported me with every step. I am incredibly grateful that they have stuck with me through thick and thin so far! And my management teams: Chadwick Models back home in Australia, The Society Management in NYC, and the Elite network in Europe. Thank you for making so many of my dreams a reality.
What are your hopes for fashion for 2019?
Let's continue to create cultural impact in ways beyond our imaginations!