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“My hopes for the future of the fashion industry are simple – fair treatment across the board, more diverse casting, and a true celebration of all types of being without it being a passing trend,” says Tré Koch, the photographer and casting director behind short film Include Me. Featuring a line-up of five emerging models – Shahira, Yuki, Aweng, Ziggy, and Eugenio – the film explores their experiences when it comes to diversity, and the obstacles they’ve come up against since they emerged onto the fashion landscape. Among the conversations, east Londoner Shahira talks about her parents’ worries that she would be a ‘token’ prior to signing to Storm, while former Dazed model Aweng touches on the fetishisation of models of colour.

“I cast these particular models because they all had a unique story to tell,” continues Koch. “The idea behind Include Me was to bring together models from around the world and show the strength in diversity. As models, and as people, they should be proud of who they are, where they have come from, and where they are going. That includes race, gender, and sexuality. I wanted to open up a space for them to be seen, heard, and appreciated for the beautiful humans they are.”  

Directed by Ali Kurr, Include Me plays out like an intimate conversation between friends, something Kurr puts down to the setting where filming took place: “I wanted somewhere everyone could chill so we shot it at my house in London,” says Kurr. “On the day, I wanted to focus on the filmmaking so I reached out to Fenn (O’Meally, a writer and former model) to interview the models. She has a background in fashion herself, so she made everyone feel so relaxed and at ease. I loved filming the conversation between her and Shahira – they were chatting away like old friends on the bed, the lens was centimetres away from their faces.”

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Include Me’s release comes at a time when conversations surrounding diversity in fashion are seemingly beginning to be taken seriously, and though there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to inclusion, the team behind the film are excited to see that change is on the horizon.

“It’s all down to social media,” say stylists Elizabeth Bishop and Max Saward. “Regardless of your background, or your age, or your ethnicity, you can become part of a conversation that questions the casting and marketing choices of many campaigns we see today. It’s taken a long time, but it seems the power is shifting into the hands of the consumer rather than the brand. There’s a thirst for representation, and rather than it being a novelty or some sort of tokenism, fashion is finally realising that its traditional methods of casting and advertising are no longer representing their audience.”

Words
Emma Elizabeth Davidson
Photography
Tré Koch
Publication