Leomie Anderson, ‘Why The Fashion Industry Needs Its Own Time’s Up’

Leomie Anderson

by Isabel van Brugen |
Updated on

In an era where supermodels can sink or swim thanks to the messages they get behind (winner: Adwoa Aboah for female ‘safe space initiative’ Gurls Talk; loser: Kendall Jenner for that Pepsi ad), Leomie Anderson is in no danger of falling from grace.

At 25, she’s a three-time Victoria’s Secret Angel, was chosen to front Rihanna’s groundbreaking Fenty Beauty launch last year, has spoken about diversity at Oxford and Cambridge, and gave a TEDx talk in August. Then there’s her feminist brand LAPP (Leomie Anderson, the Project, the Purpose), a blog and fashion range focusing on female empowerment, which she relaunched in January.

Next on her list? Pressuring her industry to act over recent allegations of widespread sexual harassment.

‘There aren’t many places a model can go to confide in somebody if they feel they’re being mistreated, and that’s something the fashion industry really needs to address,’ says Leomie. ‘We don’t have a union we can go to. I’m thinking about how to change this.’

©Philipp Raheem

It’s a good thing, she adds, that men and women have been able to speak out about allegations of sexual harassment by figures including photographers Mario Testino, Bruce Weber and Terry Richardson, all blacklisted. ‘Before, women were too scared to come forward.’ She adds, ‘Still, more needs to be done.

‘There are models who have been through much worse experiences than myself, and it was something I feel was swept under the rug. But now we […] have social media and other ways of getting our voice heard. People want to hear what models have to say, which has never been a reality before.’

Can fashion itself signal change? Leomie flashes her hoodie at me. It’s one of the latest from her LAPP shop and carries a bold message: ‘My Body My Rules’.

‘One thousand per cent,’ she smiles. ‘Fashion is one of those influential forces in society because it dictates what people believe in. The message of my latest collection highlights the policing women face in every aspect of their day-to-day life.

‘We’re told it’s just how society is. But we should really have more discussions about this.’

Leomie launched LAPP in 2016 as a platform for women, and topics range from sexual abuse to police injustice and racism. I ask why such places are so vital at the moment.

‘With every injustice, the first step is conversation.’ she says. ‘Women are saying they don’t want to be put in a box any more and are standing up for themselves.

‘We just need to keep on speaking so that we are heard. But that’s only going to happen if we stick to our beliefs and conversations that we are putting out there. I am so living for this moment.’


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