Iman has been in the modeling game for more than four decades and as such, she’s definitely earned the right to call the shots in the industry. That includes being able to decide exactly which brands get her business. The 62-year-old beauty has long been an advocate for diversity in fashion and if Blackness isn’t a part of your brand, count her out.
“If a designer boycotts me, I should boycott him,” she told actress Taraji P. Henson in Harper’s Bazar’s April issue. “I’m not going to buy a bag from someone who doesn’t use Black models. We should celebrate and highlight the people who actually step it up.”
And while it may seem as though there are more Black faces in the industry today, Iman said there’s actually less than there were when she started in 1975.
“People thought of fashion as something artistic and personal, but then it became more of a big-business machine,” she said of the evolution of the business. “Casting agents have assumed an outsize power as gatekeepers. Some had the audacity to say, ‘We’re not seeing Black models this season.’ As if Black is a trend.
“Funnily enough, there were more Black models working back when I started than there have been recently,” she continued. “So Bethann Hardison, Naomi Campbell, and I got together a couple of years ago to raise awareness about the need for diversity in fashion. We talked about it in the press and to the Council of Fashion Designers of America, and I think we’re seeing the change on the runways and in campaigns.”
Indeed, the supermodel knows the importance of representation and even though she’s got enough clout to build her own empire — as evidenced by her eponymous cosmetics line — she’s still looking out for the youngest generation.
“Image is so important. People used to say to me, ‘You just want to be invited to the table.’ And I’m like, ‘F— the table, I can buy my own table,’” she said. “But the young girls who are coming up? They need to see themselves portrayed.”