Rubric Initiative is showing how fashion can uplift marginalised voices

In a new video, a panel of industry leaders including Virgil Abloh, André Walker and Samira Nasr discuss breaking down fashion's systemic barriers.

by Tom George
19 January 2022, 12:03pm

Still from the Rubric Initiative video

“We understand that minorities aren’t built into systems. We understand the status quo is made by the status of the quo,” Virgil Abloh says, in a newly released panel discussion on the importance of community in the fashion industry. “People on the fringe have an extremely impossible task of making it to the centre where the action happens.” It's something that the late designer – famed for founding Off-White and being the artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear – then said was always on his brain; something he constantly questioned how the fashion community could solve.

The video is the second part of a panel discussion by Rubric Initiative, a collective dedicated to changing the fashion world from the inside by addressing its classist, racist and gendered boundaries. Moderated by Nell Kalonji, Rubric’s founder and a senior editor-at-large for AnOther Magazine, the panel was held over Zoom prior to Virgil’s passing in December 2021. At the time, the designer was preparing for his Louis Vuitton Art Basel show in Miami.

Topics they discuss include community, the power of magazines in forming them, and the impact of London’s club scene on fashion lovers. Other panellists include Mischa Notcutt, the renowned stylist, casting director and founder of queer POC club night PDA, editor Chioma Nnadi, Harper’s Bazaar editor-in-chief Samira Nasr and legendary designer Andre Walker.

“This panel is near and dear to our heart and our mission with Rubric,”  the video’s description reads. “It is intended to openly and honestly illuminate the value in discovering and building a creative network and community in this industry; in how developing relationships with other people who come from marginalised perspectives has been important throughout our panelist’s own careers. There is also then a dedication to Virgil and the doors he opened for others throughout his life. “We are honoured to present our community panel, with Virgil speaking about a topic that was central to how he operated both in his life and work.”

Follow i-D on Instagram and TikTok for more on fashion.

Virgil Abloh