The 100 Most Influential People of 2021
Emily Andrews
September 15, 2021 7:19 AM EDT

When I think of the designer Aurora James, founder of Brother Vellies, I see a woman who has not only shifted the culture in fashion but also rethought its economic power structures. These past two years have been a time of great upheaval for our industry, and have brought immense pain for the Black community. Yet James—a gifted designer and passionate activist—has risen up to take major retailers to task with her 15 Percent Pledge initiative, asking them to finally reflect the makeup of the U.S. population by stocking products from a proportionate number of Black-owned businesses on their shelves. It is the sort of tangible change that can have a real impact on society. Macy’s, Sephora and Bloomingdale’s count among the companies that have already signed on.

As someone who started his career in fashion—first as a model, then a stylist—in London during the late ’80s, I know what it takes to make it as a Black person in this industry, that often you have to work 10 times as hard. James isn’t only working for herself. Her tenacity, vision and strength are an inspiration. You need to be able to see the whole picture to make a real difference, and James does exactly that.

Enninful is editor in chief of British Vogue and European editorial director of Vogue

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