When it comes to minority representation in fashion, one may find it difficult to find people of colour in powerful positions. Edward Enninful is an exception to that reality, as he has been the editor-in-chief for British Vogue since 2017. That’s the same role held by Anna Wintour for years for American Vogue.
Born in Ghana, Enninful moved to the United Kingdom at a very young age. His mother was a seamstress, working out of her sewing room in Ladbroke Grove in London, a much different neighbourhood today than what it was when he grew up there.
It is not surprising that he ended up in fashion as his family and surroundings contributed to that creativity needed in this line of work. But that does not mean he did not have hurdles in his way. As a Black, immigrant, and gay child, he had his work cut out for him. In an interview with Time magazine, he said, “you know, gay, working-class, Black. So for me it was very important with Vogue to normalize the marginalized, because if you don’t see it, you don’t think it’s normal.”
Journey to the Top Title at British Vogue
Enninful started in the fashion industry from a young age. At just 16, he was working with Nick Knight of i-D magazine. He found his way into the magazine, assisting then fashion director Beth Summers. He was also modelling at the time, which given his style and poise, makes sense.
Long story short, through multiple stints at the magazine, he eventually came into the role of fashion director at the age of just 18. For such a role, hiring someone so young is not conventional. He held this title at i-D magazine for two decades whilst also contributing to other major publications like Vogue and W Magazine in other capacities.
Deborah Ababio and Edward Enninful
He was appointed as the editor-in-chief at British Vogue in 2017, becoming the first black man to hold the title. It was a breath of fresh air for British fashion.
Since his appointment, the magazine has seen a marked increase in the representation of minorities. There was a lot of representation in his entourage as well. His ex-assistant, Deborah Ababio, comes to mind who impressed the press with her edgy and colourful street style, which is something unheard of when it comes to fashion assistants. She is now Global Entertainment Director for Vogue.
Vision for British Vogue
His vision for British Vogue was clear from the beginning. He aimed for more inclusivity and moving with the times. After heading the magazine for five years now, it is safe to say that he has moved the magazine in the right direction, as it has been successful and more diverse since his appointment.
One-fourth of the editorial workforce at British Vogue is made of people of colour. The cover has been graced by many models from marginalized communities. If there’s one thing he managed to implement with his vision is diversity.