Fashion's latest nod to the transgender community features a campaign from & Other Stories that uses models Hari Nef and Valentijn De Hingh to showcase its latest capsule collection. And the result, of course, is nothing short of stunning.
Hari recently became the first transgender model to be signed to IMG, the industry's premiere modeling agency that also reps everyone from Kate Moss to Carolyn Murphy. And Valentijn, who was the subject of a documentary that profiled her life as a transgender teen from ages 8 to 17, gave a TEDx talk in 2012 that is a must-see. But while the images are naturally gorgeous, and the clothes are great as well, the camaraderie that was created behind the lens might be the most important part. The models weren't the only members of the trans community to bring H&M's sister brand's vision to life.
The entire set — excluding the brand's creative director Sara Hildén Bengtsson and Swedish film director Ninja Thyberg — was comprised of trans fashion professionals. Amos Mac played photographer, Love Bailey, stylist, and Nina Poon, the makeup artist. The result was something De Hingh described as "a bond that was immediate and palpable," she told WWD. "That’s something I haven’t experienced with other shoots, per se, where I’ve worked with other teams, other models, multiple girl stories, where you work with each other professionally and you like each other and have good conversation, but it’s not the same thing as working with an all-trans team."
According to Bengtsson, the choice to use transgender models in the campaign was practically a no-brainer. "There’s a lot of talk about transgender today, but for us, it was a lateral step to do," she said. And when it comes to the clothing itself, any fast-fashion die-hard can see they ticked every box. There are parkas, culottes, skirts, mesh T-shirts, and more, which is basically everything that anyone — of any gender — is going to need in the coming months. We'll definitely be in line when the collection hits stores August 20th.
And without ignoring the strides the industry (and the whole country, really) has made when it comes to featuring models of all different shapes, backgrounds, and identities, it's imperative to note that while the campaign's backstory is unique, the campaign appears no different than any other cisgender-modeled shoot before it — and that's a good thing.
"Sometimes to get a political message across, having a commercial brand support an issue can actually help….The thing that you have to be worried about is that it’s not just a fad. It’s not a fashion trend to have transgender people in a youth campaign, then after two seasons not have them anymore." Well said, Valentijn. Well said.