I am a white British woman, who like many other British people is a descendant of immigrants. In my case European Jews, who fled their home in the Russian Empire, present day Russia, Poland, Belarus and Ukraine, and Germany, Hungary and Israel to give their family a better life away from the discrimination they had faced.
The increased freedoms that I have the privilege of having today is due to my family sacrificing their home, name, religion, culture, language and identity to allow us to survive in the United Kingdom.
The ‘Jude’ collection is a celebration of my Jewish heritage in reaction to the recent antisemitism brought to the forefront recently from the tweets of grime artist Wiley on Twitter and consequently, Twitter’s failure in removing hate language aimed at Jews. I chose the name ‘Jude’ because although it was used in a negative context when the Nazis used it to shame Jews, the German translation only means ‘Jewish’ which should never be seen as a negative and in Arabic the word means generosity, therefore, I thought it was fitting for a celebratory collection.
Although, I am not personally Jewish seeing those tweets of hate and people supporting or downplaying what was written angered me because whenever antisemitism is ever addressed in this country it is brushed off as being over exaggerated. As though antisemitism supposedly stopped when the Holocaust ended.
I am lucky to not bear the antisemitism my ancestors faced; however, I have had a lifetime of ‘but you don’t look English English’ when questioned about my nationality. The obsession of being different is so deep rooted in our society that even I, a white British woman is questioned because I don’t look white enough, due to my olive skin, straight nose, and dark hair and eyes, to be considered English.
My message for the fashion industry is within this time we have had to rethink the world, to properly address its issues in relation to representation. Yes, there are people working in the fashion industry who come from various backgrounds but there is still an elitism when it comes to white Europeans holding higher positions and one ideal being pushed onto us in society of what beauty is.