As Black models in the fashion industry, Alicia Myers and Samantha Joseph have endured discrimination and favoritism in unimaginable ways. From makeup artists not having their shade of foundation in their kits to not being adequately lighted in photos to hairstylists not wanting to style their hair, their experiences are that of inhumanity. Myers even shared with us that she lost her hair to multiple bleachings from a hair stylist backstage who assured her the integrity of her curls would not be compromised. Myers and Joseph combined their experiences and decided that to create change, they would have to be the change. This is how Color of Fashion was founded.
Color of Fashion’s mission: unapologetically highlight all the colors of fashion and beauty to exemplify the significance of racial equality by creating relevant opportunities for all to thrive. With the tagline, “Together, We Are Stronger,” Color of Fashion is a Black female-owned non-profit organization founded to elevate fashion and promote inclusivity by bridging the gap between diversity and high fashion. We had a chance to learn more about how Color of Fashion is making an authentic impact, what we can expect from them in the future, and what it takes to bring this vision to life.
HelloBeautiful: The name Color of Fashion is quite unique. How did y’all come up with the name?
Myers & Joseph: We wanted to come up with a name that speaks to the inclusivity we aim to represent, hence Color of Fashion. So many times, the fashion industry excludes minorities, and the founders of Color of Fashion wanted to create a name that is easily a stamp of diversity and inclusivity. Color of Fashion represents all shades of skin color coming together for one common purpose.
HelloBeautiful: Share an experience where you felt you weren’t given an opportunity because you were a model of color.
Myers & Joseph: Alicia has recently had an experience where she was told she was presented to a client, and the client didn’t want to book her, but she felt deep down there was more to the story, and she researched the situation and found out she was never actually presented to the client but has seen other models who are not of color get booked for that same client. In another experience, a client reached out to book models of color, but models of color were not presented to the client. In other scenarios, we have been booked as the only black talent regardless of our actual skill or contribution to the job but just to fulfill the token black model role.
HelloBeautiful: How do you plan to transform the Denver fashion industry with COF?
Myers & Joseph: We have plans to continue raising awareness of the lack of diversity as well as highlighting the talents of the community that otherwise does not have a platform to be recognized. We work hard to seek out underrepresented talent and build relationships and networks that strengthen the creative community in hopes that we can put Denver on the map as a fashion empire.
HelloBeautiful: Where do you see COF in five years?
Myers & Joseph: We see CoF growing globally and attracting guests from outside the state, just like NYFW. In 5 years, we see CoF as a trendsetting organization that changes the internal operations of fashion shows worldwide. We are currently paying our models and staff as we can afford them. But in 5 years, we aim to grow financially to be able to compensate every internal/external participant because everyone’s hard work deserves to be appreciated. Fashion shows require so much dedication; since we’ve experienced this from different angles, we want to make changes for everyone involved. We have innovative ideas for presenting fashion, and we want to gain a resourceful network to allow us access to venues that won’t put a boundary on our creative minds.
HelloBeautiful: Since you started COF in 2021, what changes have you seen in the fashion realm in Denver?
Myers & Joseph: We have noticed models starting to speak up about their experiences in the industry, which is helping us to create a safe and developing space that prospers change. We’ve noticed that people who have worked with CoF have been presented with great opportunities from clients who have recognized them from CoF. Other creatives and organizations in the industry have started to catch on to what we’re trying to do, and they are also beginning to utilize minority talent. We have created a standard that Denver’s fashion realm aims to achieve.
HelloBeautiful: As a one-stop shop for diversity in fashion, what sets you apart?
Myers & Joseph: We are diverse from the inside out and do it genuinely because we care. Our staff is diverse, our models are diverse, our designers are diverse, and everywhere you look within CoF, diversity slaps you in the face. We scout for staff, models, and designers based on their talent/skill, not their skin color. This has naturally set us apart because we learn about these people ahead of time to ensure that they align with our values and our mission. So when you are part of any Color of Fashion production, you feel like you’re part of the family because we’ve put the time in to get to know you.
HelloBeautiful: Tell us about the preparation for an event like this. How long does it take? What are the biggest stressors?
Myers & Joseph: Preparation for an event like this takes at least a year. Preparation includes everything from scouting designers, scouting venues, holding castings, shooting promo, holding meetings, purchasing supplies, purchasing shoes, you name it. The biggest stressor is the financial burden placed on us because, as Black business owners, potential sponsors have a hard time believing our importance and our mission. So we spend ample time seeking sponsorship from like-minded businesses. It’s by far the most stressful part of the planning process because these events require a lot of capital in order to make the impact Color of Fashion requires.
HelloBeautiful: What was different about this year’s presentation?
Myers & Joseph: This year, we limited the number of designers we booked and asked for bigger collections from the designers who were chosen. We booked half the number of designers for last season but asked for twice the amount of looks from each designer. We wanted to provide a cinematic experience for our guests to be able to travel through the journey of the designers’ stories, and we wanted to keep their attention. We knew we gained traction after last season, so we decided to book larger venues this season to accommodate a larger crowd and allow us to offer a wider range of ticket prices so that they can fit anyone’s budget.
HelloBeautiful: What do you want the world to know about COF?
Myers & Joseph: We want the world to know we are two black women creating a safe space for models of color to feel confident and appreciated while also strengthening the creative community through togetherness. The world should know we are passionate about creating change in the industry, and we operate as a non-profit because we are not in this for the money. We are unapologetic about our intentions, and we are here to stay!
Color of Fashion Continues To Elevate Denver’s Fashion Industry Through Diversity And Inclusion was originally published on hellobeautiful.com