adut akech calls on the fashion industry to ‘do better’
In a statement released after a magazine published a photograph of another black model next to her interview, Adut called the debacle a ‘wake up call’.
Photography Campbell Addy. Fashion director Alastair McKimm.
Adut Akech is a fast rising global star, and probably one of the most well-known and instantly recognisable models working in the fashion industry today, which makes this weekend’s situation where she was mistaken for another model in an Australian magazine all the stranger.
In a piece on Melbourne Fashion Week recently featured in Australia’s Who Magazine, an article on Adut was published alongside a photo of another black model, Flavia Lazarus. The photo ran, ironically, next to an interview where the two time i-D cover star spoke eloquently about providing representation for refugees. Unsurprisingly (and justifiably) the fuck up invoked a colossal online backlash.
While Who Magazine themselves have yet to comment publicly on the incident, Adut herself has taken to Instagram to address the situation. In a powerful statement the model issues a call for the fashion industry to “do better”. “Not only do I personally feel insulted and disrespected but I feel like my entire race has been respected too,” Adut wrote underneath a photo of the spread. “It goes to show that people are narrow-minded, that they think every black girl or African [person] looks the same.”
Making the point that the same mistake would not have happened to a white model, Adut reveals that Who Magazine have apologised to her directly. Nonetheless she wants to use the experience to broach a difficult conversation that needs to take place in the industry. After all, this is hardly the first time this kind of ‘mix up’ has happened. Earlier this year the activist Noor Tagouri was devastated after American Vogue published an interview where they attributed her incorrectly as the Pakistani actress Noor Bukhari.
“I’m not the first person that’s experienced this,” Adut said on Instagram. “I’ve been called by the name of other models who happen to be the same ethnicity [...] This doesn’t happen with white models. I want this to be somewhat of a wake up call to people within the industry it’s not OK and you need to do better.
“Australia you’ve a lot of work to do and you’ve got to do better and that goes to the rest of the industry [too].”