Victor Glemaud — who launched IN THE BLK, a network for Black creatives, during Paris fashion week — tells InStyle about the new collective and why he's hopeful for the future of fashion.

By Samantha Sutton
Oct 14, 2020 @ 4:06 pm
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Credit: Getty Images

Despite the hardships and changes that 2020 has brought, in many ways, this year has been one of reflection and growth — particularly in terms of fashion. We're no longer buying to keep up with the latest trends; we've gotten more thoughtful with our spending, thinking ethically and sustainably, and want to support brands that we truly believe in and love, especially those that are Black-owned.

It's not news that the industry has been slacking when supporting Black talent. Many retailers have been slow to pledge even 15% of shelf space to Black-owned brands. But designers like Victor Glemaud are hopeful for the future and are making moves to ensure everyone gets a shot at success. During Paris Fashion Week, the Glamaud — who counts Meghan Markle as a fan — launched IN THE BLK, a networking initiative that, as described by the press release, is "dedicated to creating and expanding spaces for fellow Black designers."

After initially forming IN THE BLK in July, the network kicked things off during Paris Fashion Week, releasing a digital activation entitled "Film Noir" in partnership with Equator Productions. The five-part video series was directed by Ademola Faloma, Anthony Prince Leslie, Elisha Smith-Leverock, Numa Perrier, and Sean Frank, with costume designs led by Ade Samuel and Memsor Kamarake. Each vignette was meant to showcase the stunning work from IN THE BLK designers — a list that includes ASHYA, Aliette, AWA MEITE, Bien Abyé, Christie Brown, Fanmon, Fe Noel, House of Aama, Khiry, Keeyahri, LEMLEM, Love Oh Lu, Off-White, Orange Culture, Sergio Hudson, Stella Jean, Bantu Wax, Romeo Hunt, Third Crown, Studio 189, Loza Maléombho, Sansovino 6, Sewit Sium, Marty Moto, Daily Paper, Tokyo James, Victor Glemaud, and more.

InStyle spoke to Glemaud, Samuel, and Kamarake on why it was the perfect time to launch IN THE BLK, as well as the inspiration behind the videos.

InStyle: Can you tell us about the virtual event?

Victor Glemaud: "With most members unable to travel to Paris, we made the right decision to launch virtually. We launched on the Fédération de la Haute Couture de la Mode site as well as Instagram Reels, and all 5 videos will be available to view on INTHEBLK.org in their entirety."

Why is this the perfect time for the network to launch?

VG: Our global designers and fashion industry professionals members recognized we needed to express our collective creativity together. There was no better place than Paris during Fashion Month.

Was there someone who supported you early on in your career? What was the changing point for your journey?
 

VG: I interned and was the design assistant for Patrick Robinson at the very start of my career, while still studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology. Over the past 20 years, he has become my best friend and big brother. I never realized how our relationship changed the trajectory of my career until this summer. I never felt isolated because of my race during my career. So many designers who are Black never had that [relationship], and understanding their journeys inspired me to move forward IN THE BLK.

What was it like working with the collections created by the designers participating in IN THE BLK? How were you inspired by them? 

Ade Samuel: I was very inspired by their individual life stories and experiences within the fashion industry. This collective was a safe haven for like-minded creatives who wanted to see a change, not only in the industry but within the world. Victor Glemaud created an open space and a clear pathway for every individual included to connect and freely align with the community, to strengthen our network and enhance unity and support with each other. I loved that so much; the support was very refreshing. Before we began filming, the collective had multiple ZOOM calls to share ideas and discuss in-depth the feelings we all had with the new state of fashion and the transition in the world. In such an unusual dark time, this group of designers and creatives were our light. From the fresh perspectives to the innovative ideas, the meetings help organize our vision for how we were going to tell each designer's story through each film.

What excites you most about IN THE BLK?

Memsor Kamarake: As we all navigate a COVID-shaken fashion industry, it is emotionally reassuring to have a safe space to encourage each other’s creativity, hold each other up as well as hold each other accountable. After months of feeling disconnected, we all need a little togetherness and inspiration! This film series born of this global community can only inspire and illustrate what we can accomplish when choose to pool our talents and work together.

How do you think the pandemic has changed the fashion industry?

VG: Fashion is a marathon not a sprint. Since March, I hope we learned to slow down. With the numerous challenges our industry is facing, now is the time to have a strong and unique creative outlook and share it honestly.

What is your hope for the future of fashion?

VG: I have always been a hopeful person. I would like to see our industry begin to support and nurture young talents of different backgrounds with true vision!"

MK: My hope for the future of fashion is it that we widen our outreach in order to create a diverse, more inclusive fashion industry; one that is a true representation of the global audience it serves.