I was lucky enough to attend the Samanta Bullock Shop Launch in the Kindred Private Members Club on behalf of London Organic, a brand who collaborates with SB. Samanta was looking stunning at the event and, over the course of the evening, I learnt a bit about her story. Samanta is a pioneer for “empowerment, fashion, and inclusivity”, as her company’s motto reads. To quote her website – ‘Born in Brazil, Samanta moved to London 10 years ago and has since dedicated her life to improving the lives of people living with disabilities. She hopes that her collection will open people’s minds and hearts.’ The event launched her shop, which features not only her own fabulous clothing, but some of the most exciting London fashion and beauty brands, all of which forefront sustainability and diversity. But most importantly it carries a message that I cannot put better than Samanta herself has – “We must be seen to exist”.
It is hard to ignore those different from oneself, whether that be in race, sexuality or physical ability, when one is faced with them (and in this instance, faced with them dressed in exquisite clothing from the SB line). It is easy to ignore the importance of diversity when brands seem insistent on presenting the same conventional standard of beauty to the market. But when those individuals who do not fit that mould are made visible, convention is challenged. Those limited standards of beauty are overthrown, and individuals are allowed to shine in their diversity. Those of us who are diverse must be seen, and those who choose to forget us must be faced with us, and brands like Samanta Bullock are ensuring this visibility.
Samanta proved that nothing needs to be sacrificed to make a brand inclusive. Her line is full of colour, shape, and most importantly, individuality. The clothes allow the expression of individual experience, speaking just as powerfully from the seated position. Not only did Samanta fill her line with glamour, she also did not choose to take shortcuts when it came to sustainability. Indeed, all the brands at the event that evening understood the importance of sustainable fashion, whether that be environmental or social. Fashion has an impact far greater than just beauty, and so ensuring to keep sustainability at the forefront of their designs only furthered the power of the garments themselves.
In a personal highlight for me at the event, the icon living Caryn Franklin came to speak (shockingly bad photo provided here).
As a Professor of Diversity in fashion, a former editor of i-D magazine, and a pioneer of inclusivity for over 35 years, there was no one better suited to come speak at the event, and she most certainly did not disappoint. (There’ll be another post about her soon!) She was a championing the brand, and spoke passionately about the importance of this event and its powerful effects. But for me, the thing that stood out most powerfully in her speech, was her observation of how smoothly the event had been going and how lovely and breezy the evening had been. Now that isn’t me tooting my own horn as to how organised we had all been, but instead made me think about the common excuses people give for not having fully inclusive and diverse events. I’ve heard it enough times – it’s too difficult; it’s too expensive; it’s a healthy and safety concern; and the stupidest of all, we can’t find the people.
Looking around that room packed full of diverse individuals, of different ages, shapes, and colours, it really occured to me just how ridiculous those arguments actually are. I am not saying that Samanta didn’t have to overcome many a challenge to create such a powerful brand, but what I am pointing out is that it certainly wasn’t diversity that lead to those challenges. The venue was brilliant, and at no point, whilst standing at the door inviting people in, did I hear any complaints about accessibility. People were able to move around comfortably, the runway was brilliant and pretty easy to set up, and everything was easily adjusted to be at the appropriate height for wheelchair users. In fact, of the challenges through the evening, worries about the wheelchair users wouldn’t have cracked the top ten.
What this event proved was that nothing has to be sacrificed to celebrate the diversity amongst us. The clothing was glamorous, the event ran smoothly, the speaker couldn’t have been more high profile, and there was never a moment that lacked energy and passion. In fact, it was the diversity of the evening that gave us all of that. Diversity was made visible and we all shined in that visibility!
“We must be seen to exist”. – Samanta Bullock
Checkout her site here – https://samantabullock.com/