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Brief Published: 14 Aug 2018

Black Women Dominate September Covers

Clockwise L-R: Rihanna, Issa Rae, Tiffany Haddish, Lupita Nyong'o, Zendaya, Beyonce, Slick Woods

A historic number of leading fashion publications have chosen black women to appear on the covers of their prestigious September issues, rejecting the notion that diversity hinders sales. 

At least eight black women have appeared on the cover of several magazines’ influential September issues so far, marking the first time this many black women have received the honour in the same year.

The individual September covers feature a range of women, from superstars like Beyoncé and Rihanna, to lesser-known comedians, models and musicians like Tiffany Haddish, Issa Rae, Slick Woods and Zendaya.

Musician Rihanna has become the first black woman in British Vogue’s 102-year history to appear on the cover of one of its September issues, while at US Vogue, Beyoncé was given complete creative control over her cover issue. The singer selected 23-year-old photographer Tyler Mitchell to shoot her cover story, making the New York native the first black photographer to shoot a Vogue cover in the magazine’s 126-year history. Beyoncé also narrated an essay for the issue.

The widespread visibility of black women on this year’s September covers is both timely and necessary; ethically responsible and business-savvy. Not only should brands recognise their responsibility to embrace ethnic diversity across everything they do, they should also acknowledge the cultural influence and spending power of black women – who spend $54m on hair and beauty products in the US alone (Nielson, 2018).

This year’s September issues are a promising start for inclusion in the fashion industry, with US Vogue in particular embracing an inspiring framework that allows diverse groups of people to narrate and visualise their own identities. 

For more on this, see A Fashion A’woke’ning: Mainstreaming Inclusivity, Inclusive Beauty: On & Offline and Redressing Femininity: Reality