These Black and BIPOC Canadian women have left their mark and let diversity into the fashion industry
By: Rose de Paulsen
When we think of diversity in fashion, our mind leaps first to the most visible aspects. We think of models, designers, influencers, and we often do not think of the people behind the scenes, the very people who are able to give others a platform. And Canadians are not left out of the picture when it comes to behind the scenes of the fashion industry. If you take a closer look into the top American magazines, you will see quite a few writers and editors from Canada. We are also witnessing a long overdue shift towards diversity in the magazine work room. Three notable Canadian women are paving the way for persons of colour in leadership positions in media.
Suzanne Boyd was born in Halifax, Nova Scotia before her family moved closer to her father’s country the Dominican Republic. Her childhood was spent in Barbados and Dominica, with her high school years in Jamaica. Her first writing position was a reporter at The Nation in Barbados in 1982-84. At the time she had not focused on fashion and had a passion for journalism. That changed when she moved to Toronto and discovered fashion through nightlife. She began interning writing shopping columns downtown when she discovered the more artistic side of journalism. She began working at Flare as an associate beauty editor in 1990, filling in her time off as a freelance writer for Toronto Star and Chatelaine until 1992. Boyd had achieved an incredible amount of work in only a little more than a decade of experience in the business. In 1996 she became the editor-in-chief for Flare magazine, one of the most successful magazines in Canada, and was recognized as one of the first woman of colour to head of a popular magazine. In 2004 she created Suede a monumental magazine that studied current fashions through the lenses of people of colour. Suede was short lived but made waves in the magazine industry and holds a special place in Boyd’s heart. Suzanne Boyd is now the editor-in-chief and publisher of Canadian magazine Zoomer, a lifestyle magazine for 40+ readers.
Her twitter handle is @suzanne_boyd and you can find her articles on everythingzoomer.com
Vanessa Craft was born and raised in Toronto and had always been a storyteller. She also had a deep interest in fashion that took her across waters to the UK to study at the London College of Fashion. In an interview with Marci Ien, she reveals one of the reasons she headed back to Canada after 14 years in the UK was because of publishing her book Out of Character. In 2008 she began working as beauty editor for More magazine. She had experience in lifestyle, fashion and beauty journalism before she eventually started working as ELLE Canada’s beauty director in 2011. Then in 2016 she made history as the first black woman to become editor-in-chief for ELLE globally. She pushed for BIPOC representation in media and even featured Winnie Harlow (an incredibly notable black Canadian model) in a remarkable 2019 issue. While she was editor-in-chief ELLE Canada saw a growth in readership. In 2020 Vanessa made a jump to TikTok Canada as Head of Content Partnerships on one of the most recent growing platforms.
Follow her on Instagram @vanessacraft
Samira Nasr is a Montreal born fashion lover of Lebanese and Trinidadian decent. She had always loved fashion but had enrolled at NYU for journalism with an undergraduate in philosophy and a career path headed into biomedical ethics. Her passion for Middle Eastern politics had her reconsider as she wanted her journalism to focus on the beauty and peace of Islam since the media, she had been experiencing often portrayed it in a negative light. That all changed when she started an internship at Mirabella magazine; a magazine that was started by the once editor-in-chief for Vogue. She began working for some of the bigger magazines like Allure, Vogue, InStyle, Vanity Fair and ELLE (America). She made a name for herself as a fashion director at these publications. She would switch from Conde Nast magazine company to Hearst, the owner of Harper’s Bazaar in 2020. In 2020 Nasr would get a call from the Hearst company and become the next editor-in-chief by July. This sent shockwaves through the industry. An American magazine had an BIPOC Canadian woman as their editor-in-chief and Nasr had big plans for the company. In her first month she released five issues with women of colour as the cover models. Nasr is passionate about inclusivity and telling stories from those who have been silenced or shut out. She is continuing to shake up the industry as editor-in-chief for Harper’s Bazaar.
Follow her on Instagram @samiranasr
Suzanne Boyd Biography. Magazine, Editor, York, and Suede – JRank Articles. from https://biography.jrank.org/pages/2733/Boyd-Suzanne.html
#NewsWithSuze The Other Suzanne Boyd. (2020). NewswithSuze. Retrieved from https://de-de.facebook.com/NewsWithSuze/videos/272002227285534/.
Ien, M. (2020, March). 10 questions with Marci Ien: Vanessa Craft. ByBlacks.com – #1 online magazine for Black Canadians. Retrieved from https://byblacks.com/profiles/personalities/item/2506-10-questions-with-marci-ien-vanessa-craft
staff, B. S. B. (2021, November 11). WOTY 2021: TikTok’s Vanessa Craft is amplifying diverse voices. Bay Street Bull. Retrieved from https://baystbull.com/women-of-the-year-2021-vanessa-craft-tiktok/
Givhan, R. (2021, February 26). Samira Nasr, a fashion first at Harper’s Bazaar: ‘I just want to bring more people with me to the party’. The Washington Post. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/02/19/samira-nasr-harpers-bazaar/
Abrams, R. (2020, June 10). Harper’s Bazaar appoints first woman of color as top editor. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/09/business/media/harpers-bazaar-editor-samira-nasr.html
A fashionable life: Inside Samira Nasr’s New York City Apartment. Harper’s Bazaar Singapore. (2021, July 23). Retrieved from https://www.harpersbazaar.com.sg/exclusives/a-fashionable-life-inside-samira-nasrs-new-york-city-apartment/
Colón, A. (2020, October 20). Samira Nasr’s first issue as editor-in-chief of ‘harper’s bazaar’ is here. Fashionista. Retrieved from https://fashionista.com/2020/10/samira-nasr-first-issue-harpers-bazaar-november-2020
Team, B. F. (2021, November 19). Samira Nasr: ‘real inclusion means anyone can follow their dreams’. The Business of Fashion. Retrieved from https://www.businessoffashion.com/podcasts/workplace-talent/samira-nasr-real-inclusion-means-anyone-can-follow-their-dreams/
Header Image: The Style House http://www.thestylehouse.ca/the-stylehouse-blogs/suzanne-boyd