Elle Germany slammed for saying 'black is back'

Elle Germany apologises for ‘racist’ ‘Back to Black’ issue which claims ‘models of colour are in fashion again’ and confuses Naomi Chin Wing with Janaye Furman

  • German magazine Elle has been slammed for their November issue
  • Features the tagline ‘black is back’ and proclaims that ‘models of colour are back in fashion’
  • Bio of model Janaye Furman mistakenly features a picture of Naomi Chin Wing 
  • Cover model is white despite issue being sold around ‘models of colour’
  • Publication issued an apology today apologising for ‘making several mistakes’ 

German magazine Elle has issued an apology after being slammed for their November issue, which features the tagline ‘black is back’ and appears to proclaim that ‘models of colour are back in fashion’. 

The publication’s leading fashion feature shows the profiles of six ‘new’ black models, including well-known model Joan Smalls.

Additionally, the bio of model Janaye Furman mistakenly features a picture of Naomi  Chin Wing, and despite the cover being sold on ‘back to black’, a white model is featured as the cover model. 

The cover reads ‘Back to black – Black is back again: irresistibly’ and the translated feature says:  ‘Beautiful, successful, [politically] active: Never were models of colour so in demand as now. These amazing women inspire us both on and off the catwalk!’.

In a statement issued this morning, the publication apologised for ‘making several mistakes’ in their attempt to highlight the work of models of colour ‘from different angles’, adding ‘we apologise to anyone we might have hurt’.

German magazine Elle has issued an apology after being slammed for their November issue, which features the tagline ‘black is back’ and appears to proclaim that ‘models of colour are back in fashion’

Instagram account Diet Prada, an authority on holding fashion brands accountable for their messages, shared a picture of the cover and inside feature, slamming the publication. 

They wrote: ‘Not a good look, Elle Germany. For their November 2019 issue, the presumably white-led publication declares that ‘black is back’. 

‘Ironic when they, along with much of the fashion industry, have been complicit in denying visibility to black models until relatively recently.’

They added: ‘Oh, and apparently they can’t actually tell models apart. In the bottom middle, a picture of Naomi Chin Wing is used in place of Janaye Furman. 

‘And Joan Smalls has been around for a minute/hasn’t gone anywhere lmao (sic). The issue, titled ‘Back to Black’, also features a white model on the cover. You can’t make this stuff up!’

The cover reads ‘Back to black – Black is back again: irresistibly’ and the translated feature’s says: ‘Beautiful, successful, [politically] active: Never were models of colour so in demand as now. These amazing women inspire us both on and off the catwalk!’

Instagram account Diet Prada, an authority on holding fashion brands accountable for their message, shared a picture of the cover and inside feature, slamming the publication

The post quickly racked up almost 80,000 likes from outraged followers slamming the feature.

One wrote: ‘What a boring editorial framework on their part even if it wasn’t ahistorical and racist’, while another added: ‘Good intention but poor execution’. 

‘This is what happens when companies who “want” to be diverse try to speak on diversity and have no diversity in their offices’, another said. 

Another said: ‘The white model on the cover is really the cherry on top of it all’.

And while the models mentioned in the feature didn’t address the controversy, Strictly Come Dancing’s Motsi Mabuse wrote: ‘Another day for us Black woman in Germany where you think ……..!

‘Well I am sure Elle Germany meant no harm! Not trying to defend or attack anyone! I do think if there was more diversity in the firm or in the magazine advising this would never have happened!

‘Black is not back lol! It was never allowed! How many times have I been told black covers don’t sell so The magazines are catering to the Clients but maybe it’s also time for a change! Interesting topic ! Open for discussion!’.

The post quickly racked up almost 80,000 likes from outraged followers slamming the feature

In their statement issued this morning, the publication apologised for ‘making several mistakes’ in their attempt to highlight the work of models of colour ‘from different angles’, adding ‘we apologise to anyone we might have hurt’

Following the uproar, Elle Germany released a full apology, which reads: ‘In our current issue we are approaching the colour black from different angles. 

‘As one of the topics it was our aim to feature strong black women who work as models for the fashion industry. 

‘In doing so, we have made several mistakes which we apologise to anyone we might have hurt.

‘It was a mistake to use the cover line ‘Back to black’ which could be understood as if black persons would be a kind of fashion trend.

‘This obviously wasn’t our intention and it was our mistake not to be more sensitive about this. 

‘Misidentifying the model Naomi Chin Wing as Janaye Furman has also been a mistake which we regret and for which we apologise. 

‘We are aware how problematic this is. This has definitely been a learning experience for us and we apologise for anyone we may have hurt or offended.’


The bio of model Janaye Furman (seen left) mistakenly features a picture of Naomi Chin Wing (seen centre)

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