Edward Enninful is the first Black and Ghanaian Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, who recently wrote a memoir on his career path into fashion, often regarded as one of the most exclusive industries in the world. His memoir is titled A Visible Man and was published on September 6 by Penguin Press. A Visible Man explores how Enninful climbed up the rungs of high fashion as a Black, gay, working-class refugee, constantly pushing the fashion industry to change its understanding of beauty with his drive for inclusion and change.
Written in chronological order, Enninful begins his memoir with a reflection on his childhood. He was born in the city of Tema, Ghana and moved to Ladbroke Grove, London at a young age. He became interested in fashion as he watched his talented mother design eye-catching dresses through her dressmaking business. While he shared a close bond with his mother, he and his father did not quite see eye to eye and they started to understand each other only after the death of his mother. As Enninful talks about modeling in London as a teenager, readers will be amazed at the amount of passion and heart that Enninful had from a young age. In fact, he became the youngest-ever fashion director at i-D magazine at the age of 18, paving the way for young Black men like him to dream of a career in fashion.
However, Enninful ‘s journey is not all rosy and often fraught with difficulties. After his position at i-D magazine, he worked as contributing editor at Italian Vogue in 1998, as contributing fashion editor at American Vogue in 2006, as style director at W Magazine in 2011, and finally, as the Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue in 2017. As he moved up the ranks at various magazines, he describes the many moments of racism he faced as a Black man in the workplace and often as the only person of color in a room. Despite these struggles, Enninful maintains his ambitions and becomes a changemaker in an industry that has often excluded Black people in the past.
The publisher’s note labels Enninful’s work a “memoir of breaking barriers” and this sentiment is evident in the important work he has done over the past five years to address gaps in the fashion industry. From voicing his frustration at being told to sit in the second row at the 2013 Haute Couture Week to including more women of color in the pages of British Vogue, Enninful has gone above and beyond to make the fashion industry a more inclusive space.
However, Enninful does not see his memoir as a story about fashion. Instead, he views it as a culmination of his many identities, as a tastemaker, a refugee, a son, a Black man in the workplace, and more. In an interview, he comments that the idea for his memoir stemmed from witnessing the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020:
I’m not really that comfortable turning the light on myself, but of course lockdown happened and George Floyd was murdered and the world changed, and [there was this] outpouring of people from all around the world, essentially, to support the Black race. Seeing all those young people, I just thought, you know what, it’s time to write this book. People look at me, or anyone successful, and the new generation, they see where you are now, they see who you are, what you do, but I really wanted to tell the story of a journey. I literally started from scratch, with nothing.
If you have ever wondered what it takes to redefine the boundaries of fashion, we highly recommend that you read Enninful’s brilliant and inspiring memoir A Visible Man. We hope that Enninful’s story inspires those of you out there who are passionate about fashion and want to learn more about this exclusive industry!