Since the first editorial, when she was only 15, Afiya Bennett has come a long way. Model, influencer and great inspiration for young girls on the crucial issues of beauty and female empowerment, now here the cover star of our latest issue. Afiya Bennett continues to inspire with her strong and bold character, especially through The Afiya Collection, her brand that aims at making women feel strong and good in themselves. Bennett believes in the solidarity between women, and that’s what she always tries – and succeed to – to convey through her work. We had the pleasure to speak with her about these important issues, also considering the problems related with racism in fashion and her experience in the industry being a black model.
Preview from S/S 2021 issue
“Strength is always in numbers” this is one the many powerful statements that appears on the about page of your luxury hats brand The Afiya Collection. Can you tell us a bit more about it? Is there someone who inspired you in the creation of this brand?
The Statement “Strength is in numbers” is such a powerful statement. As women, as we branch off into creating businesses starting new career paths, and even furthering our education, standing together makes us feel empowered and confident enough to tackle anything that comes our way. Having the support from another woman, being able to shed an ounce of advice or guidance, or even buying another women’s product unites us and makes us feel as if we truly conquer anything. I know what it feels like to need that support and what a world of difference it made having it.
I created the Afiya brand because it embodies standing together in solidarity. It’s for ladies who do not want to take ‘No’ for an answer. The Afiya Collection is here to inspire young girls to keep their heads up by following their dreams and not backing down. This collection is for women around the world to be reminded that they have the support of other women and that they have the power to achieve anything.
How do you think the creative industries should propose more inclusivity in their projects? Do you think what it has been done up until now is acceptable or even enough?
I think that creative industries should propose more inclusivity in their projects by incorporating a wider range of models of color and minorities in their campaigns and social media outlets. Being a model of color is very broad and it would be great to see that range broadcasted in fashion advertisements. Often times on set, there is one model of color to five or six of our counterparts. I think it is time that the ratio of race and culture is proportionately distributed on set. It would also be amazing to give a voice to the talent and invite consumers into some aspect of the culture of those that are the face of a brand. For decades models were just seen but not necessarily heard. I think that apart of opening the platform to inclusivity is also giving a voice to models from all walks of life and inviting the consumers into some aspect of their culture.
I personally believe that that’s what creative projects need. To open the platform past what we are already familiar with but inviting the consumer into aspects of culture that they may or may not be familiar with. I think that what has been done thus far is definitely a step in the right direction, but the inclusivity of models of color should not be a trend but something that is natural. At the moment brands have to be Intentional about being inclusive because it hasn’t been done frequent enough in the past. However, my goal is that the fashion industry gets to a point where inclusivity comes naturally and doesn’t have to be forced.