London Fashion Week Embraces Diversity with a Fresh Lens – South Asia Time

London Fashion Week Embraces Diversity with a Fresh Lens

 June 8, 2024  

For this year’s June edition of London Fashion Week, the British Fashion Council is taking an innovative approach by broadening its traditionally menswear-centric focus. The event will spotlight the contributions of three influential communities in London’s fashion scene: the Black community, the queer community, and the South Asian community.

Simran Randhawa, a renowned brand consultant and online influencer since the Tumblr era, has been entrusted with co-curating the event from a South Asian perspective. Her aim is to showcase the contemporary ingenuity and craftsmanship of British South Asian designers, reflecting the current fashion landscape.

“South Asians working in fashion [in the UK] isn’t a new concept,” Randhawa told Vogue India. “We’ve had trailblazers like Ashish and many others working behind the scenes. Now, there’s a new generation of young British South Asians—designers, photographers, curators—making significant strides. I feel passionate about increasing visibility for us across the entire industry, not just within our own circles.”

The highlight of Randhawa’s contribution is an exhibition at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, running from June 7 to 9. The exhibition will feature key garments selected by Randhawa for their artistic and innovative use of fabric. Among them is an all-denim look by British and Indian-Nigerian designer Priya Ahluwalia, known for her creative use of sustainable fabrics, and a piece by Kerala-born designer Harri, celebrated for his innovative work with latex.

The exhibition will also showcase emerging talents. Hadiyah Hussain’s screen-printed designs and LahoS, a brand by Suk Sohal, will be featured. Pakistani British photographer Tami Aftab will present ‘Threads,’ a photography collection exploring themes of fabric and heritage.

While South Asia has a rich history of textile work, Randhawa’s focus is decidedly contemporary. She emphasizes that the featured designers are not confined to traditional techniques like intricate beadwork or handwoven materials. “You can just be a South Asian designer showcasing and telling your story,” Randhawa asserts.

Reflecting on her own experiences, Randhawa recalls instances of stereotypical styling in fashion campaigns. She believes the industry has progressed past such representations to a point where South Asian designers can simply be themselves.

Randhawa’s focus on textiles draws from personal heritage. “We all have those memories of going to the fabric shop and getting a suit or a sari fitted,” she says. Her goal is to modernize these memories, aligning them with current conversations in fashion.

As part of London Fashion Week, Randhawa will participate in a panel discussion on diversity in the UK fashion industry. Joining her will be journalist Maliha Shoaib, multi-disciplinary artist Darkwah, and presenter Lea Ogunlami. The panel aims to challenge the industry’s understanding of diversity and push for actionable change.

Randhawa admits to experiencing ‘diversity fatigue’ but stresses the importance of moving beyond discussions to tangible actions. “This exhibition is a great manifestation of what I believe in: action and visibility,” she concludes.

This year’s London Fashion Week promises to be a celebration of diverse voices and talents, reflecting the dynamic and inclusive spirit of the city’s fashion scene.