DIVERSITY FASHION WEEK, Amsterdam, November 2020

PAULINA’S FRIENDS is proud to be part of this year’s Diversity Fashion Week in Amsterdam. Such a honour! We are delighted to get an interview with one of the founders of Diversity Fashion Week and Diversity Model Agency, Daisy van der Veen.

How was the idea of DFW born ?

Diversity Fashion Week is a foundation founded in 2018 by international model Sensemielja Letitia Sumter. The idea came alive and here is where Sensemielja could express her creativy at her best. It always was her longtime dream to create a fashion show where everybody could be who they want to be. With various themes, attributes and a real message the show is not like any other shows. The foundation creates a platform for (young) talents, designers and models who are not your typical models. We find it important that everybody feels represented especially in the media industry and in our current fashion world. It is no lie that there is a lack of diversity and unity in this business and there are so many talented people out there that deserve a platform to be known, seen and recognized. Annually we organize various events with the main focus to show all kinds of diversity with specialized themes. Our inspiration comes from various Disney movies and they love to play with all kinds of elements.

Tell me more about your participants?

This edition was inspired by the movie Alice through the looking glass and was a sneak peek of our Winter Wonder Land edition for next year. 15 designers national and international have showcased their designs during the show. Some designs were specially made for our theme. One of the designers Stephastique states “Alice is the ultimate muse. She is not afraid to look at her reflection in the mirror and be herself. She struggles for the one she loves. That is why the collection is inspired by the movie „Alice Through the Looking Glass“. The collection is characterized by expressive prints, colors, manipulation of fabrics and recycling. The combination of colors and special materials resulted in expressive outfits that could have been worn by the eccentric characters from the film. The collection is about being able to look at yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you see. But it is also intended to hold up a mirror to the viewer about the consumer society in which we live in”. In addition designer Steven Blanco known for his hand-painted artworks on clothing to produce unique and timeless items with emotional depth has made a timeless collection based on “Alice through the looking glass”movie. We are happy to still pull this off and are excited to show you the results. Diversity and inclusion matters and we are happy that the designers took part in our extraordinary show and worked with our diversity models! No matter your size, skincolor, religion or if you have a disability. You are beautiful ❤️. Our mission is to show the world that beauty is not set in one standard but radiates through embracing our different features. Full show can be seen on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fwvJnLQh7I. Designers: Mystic Fantasy Creations, Zalure, DUC, Natureza Brasileira by Josh, NBO designs, ANNIGJE, MI&ANN, PAULINA’S FRIENDS, Steven Blanco, Urbanella, MarosEtti bags, Stephastique, Designhoeden Myra, Khadija Faraj, Udoka Eijofor‘

And about your Diversity Model Agency?

Diversity Model Agency was founded in 2018 by Sensemielja Letitia Sumter, Marcel Schwab and Daisy van der Veen. The industry can be very hard therefore we first started another foundation however the partnership did not worked out. All the models that trained very hard for the show got cancelled and were not allowed to walk the show. Therefore the models needed a safety net and guidance. Hereby DMA was born. During Sensemieljas modelling career she has seen a lot of places but also saw the lack of diversity in this business and that is also one of the reasons why the 2 companies were founded. Marcel is a well known high fashion photographer and Daisy van der Veen makes sure that everything is in check in regards to administration and public relations. The agency offers a platform for everybody with unique features, shades, shapes and models with a disability. We find it important that everybody feels represented. It is no secret that campaigns, commercials, movies or runway shows lacks a inclusive representation. Slowly there is change but we are not there yet. By providing the importancy of our mission we believe that the impact will be on the wider society in terms of changing attitudes and developing peoples understanding of people with a disability or differences. Besides offering a wide selection of models we also host various workshops and trainings that improves their models with confidence and skills getting them ready for various job offers. The workshops vary from catwalkclasses, posing workshops and many more. The workshops are provided by Sensemielja Letitia Sumter.

What is the goal, unique selling point and the vision of DFW?

Our goal is to become the most inclusive runway in the world by showing unique and talented designers and models. Our unique selling point is that we are here to inspire not only brands but also other companies related to media regarding the importancy of diversity and inclusion in this industry. Making their brand also accessible for others strives to have a huge impact on consumers and other business related opportunities. Make your brand stand out that you are open for inclusion,diversity and equality. Our vision in this plays a big part as all our previous shows also include different themes which also challenges designers to see things from a other perspective. Therefore we are all in this together and we are here to provide a unique platform for not only models but also for (upcoming) brands and designers.

What should be the future of contemporary fashion?

The future would be having clothes for all kinds of sizes and models. Another great example is Tommy Hilfiger whom has a seperate brand called Zappos Adaptive which they have unique and especially made clothing for models with a disability. There are all kinds of consumers in the world and we are not all a ‚ size small ‚ therefore we hope to inspire to make sustainable clothing for everybody and reduce fast fashion.

Your definition for

– Sustainability?

In addition we aim to highlight designers who use a sustainable way of taking into environmental aspects, but also to encourage consumers to consume more „fairly“. Whether we call it fair clothing or sustainable clothing, attention is paid to the garment anyway. The designer and manufacturer have thought about the impact on the environment and labor. This often means that garments are of better quality and minimizes characteristic of the fast fashion industry.

– Slow/ethical fashion?

Slow fashion is conscious and mindful and therefore considers more as timeless then trendy. We also think that slow fashion is about quality instead of quantity. The garmens can last longer or even a lifetime!

– Authenticity?

You buy a handmade piece from a designer which often is made only 1 time and therefore makes you stand out! In addition you will not walk with clothing that are most likely produced all over the world with possible horrible conditions in the manufacturys but you also support the smaller businesses especially during the pandemic we are in right now.

– Alterity?

Customized and unique!

Your style icon(s)? Why…?

We have a few but Lady Gaga always comes up with something which you can either hate or love! It is her own style and is bold enough to show it to the world. Sensemielja’s role model is Naomi Campbell. She became a cult figure of the 1990s with her feline gaze, dynamic personality and biting comebacks as has dominated the fashion scene ever since.

Photographer: Marcel Schwab
Diversity Fashion Week After shots 2020
Styling & Make up by modelsensi, Sensemielja Letitia Sumter
Model Joke for dma_models