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A well-known collective that Stella Jean and other members of have stated they will not be attending Milan Fashion Week was established in 2020 to assist Italian designers of colour. It serves as a sharp reminder of the tensions that simmer beneath the surface of the Italian sector, where efforts to promote diversity and inclusion have frequently lagged behind those of other nations.

The Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana (CNMI) fashion week press conference was interrupted on February 8 by Jean, the co-founder of We Are Made in Italy (WAMI), who claimed that the CNMI had “abandoned” its initiative and had not sufficiently backed diversity and inclusion throughout the Italian fashion industry.

The CNMI refuted the allegations of lack of support, stating that WAMI and the Stella Jean’s brand were invited to participate in the schedule and that WAMI had also been given the opportunity to utilise the Fashion Hub space’s location and communications free of charge. According to Carlo Capasa, president of the CNMI, “Stella Jean and WAMI collective opted to withdraw from the calendar, saying that no economic support has been supplied by CNMI.” “I want to emphasise that we have always supported WAMI and the Afro Fashion Association projects in various ways depending on the opportunities available at the time.”

Together with talent scout Michelle Ngonmo and Edward Buchanan, the creator of the knitwear company Sansovino 6, Jean co-founded WAMI in 2020. Because she was the only Black Italian designer on the show schedule at the time, Jean was abstaining from Milan Fashion Week. The WAMI collective held their first physical show in September 2022 after presenting digital collections in February 2021, September 2021, and February 2022. In September 2020, they took part in Milan Fashion Week with a fashion video. Capasa joined the collective’s board of directors, and CNMI encouraged WAMI to take part in the timetable.

But soon after the September show, Capasa resigned from the board, and according to WAMI, support from the CNMI dwindled. “WAMI has worked with the Italian Fashion Council for three seasons as a separate programme. “We had to prepare the talent and start to resolve and suggest alternatives when we were informed in September that they would no longer support this project with exposure, cash for production, and presentations for the designers,” Buchanan tells Vogue Business. We were essentially refused entry.