Nigerian American rapper Chika and Somali Australian rapper Adult Akech land slots in the Business of Fashion magazine seventh #BoF500 print edition. The edition which celebrates 500 people shaping the fashion industry has chosen this year to shine their light on the vanguards of diversity in the fashion industry.

The founder and editor-in-chief of the publication Imran Amed say in his editor’s letter that with culture-shifting around us, the rules are changing. He adds that it’s not enough to have a diverse cast of models on our runways but we must do the inner works that will bring the change to fruition.

Fashion is an industry which, in part, has been built on cultivating a perception of exclusivity in order to create aspiration and desire. But with culture-shifting around us, the rules are being rewritten when it comes to how we address customers of different races, genders, sexualities, and abilities. It is not enough to include diverse faces in our consumer-facing ad campaigns and runway shows and to hire chief diversity and inclusion officers. We actually need to do the difficult work of enacting cultural change and making people feel welcome and included in the inner workings of the industry itself.

Too often, when we think about inclusion, it is only at the surface, without a deeper understanding of the issues at play and the history of what has come before. The business rationale and PR risk of getting this wrong is real. But there is still work to be done. Indeed, over the past year, every month it seems another brand put out a product, advertising campaign or statement that some customers found deeply offensive, leading some of them to burn their products, organize boycotts and create social media campaigns to call out the brands publicly.

Rocking Maison Margiela on the cover, the Alabama based rapper who has called out the like of Kanye West and is known for her harch cultural commentary with her art has taken to social media to thank the magazine for the feature. She also says that she is down to help in making the fashion industry fully diverse.

It’s time we shift the gaze of the fashion industry and create a more diverse, inclusive space. Without pandering, I’m down to help.

Lensed by Nigerian photographer Ruth Ginika Ossai, Adut who shares her cover with designer Pierpaolo Piccioli says that she is excited to continue to be a change agent in the industry.

Photography: @catherineservel, @ruthossaistudio
Stylist: @nikhilmansata
Hair: @samiknighthair,  @alexis.parente
Manicure: @merricures
Seamstress: @gulsenkan_fashion
Wardrobe assistant: Jesse Hoffman
Clothing: @maisonmargiel
Makeup: @dariiaday