07 Dec Local mum launches her own fashion label to further diversity
A MOTHER was so disappointed she couldn’t find clothing portraying ethnically diverse people or characters she has started her own fashion label to improve the situation.
Lisa Munyenya, Essex mum of three mixed-race* children, felt the fashion and clothing industry was letting her children down by failing to depict faces or characters with dark or mixed-race skins on their children’s clothes.
In response Lisa founded fashion label Anyone Can Be, which is starting with the launch of a t-shirt line featuring original characters with a wide range of skin tones. Her brand is a labour of love and is sending a positive message to the fashion industry, which she believes often forgets its responsibilities to represent people of all ethnic backgrounds.
Lisa, who is white British but whose husband is African, decided she had to take action, after discovering how difficult it was to find clothes which provided her mixed-race daughter with relatable images.
Trying to buy her daughter a simple mermaid-themed t-shirt, the business owner and former insurance worker was staggered by the distinct lack of representation in the children’s fashion world.
Lisa, who created the brand after being made redundant from her Insurance job in London, explains: “Going out to buy her a mermaid t-shirt became a struggle, because none of the mermaids remotely resembled her – not big brand character and not generic ones either
“I was disappointed to discover mixed-race and black children are rarely featured on clothing, greetings cards, pyjamas or swimwear. As a white woman, this wasn’t something I had necessarily noticed before, but I want my children, and children like mine, to feel they are represented within society. Without labels like mine it is like they are second class citizens.”
The recent engagement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle has once again brought the subject of diversity into the public eye. And while Lisa believes it is generally a positive thing, she has noticed there is still some very worrying language being used, which underlines the fact that more needs to be done to change attitudes.
Lisa, mother to Isabella, 4, Isaac, 3 and Essie one, said: “The fact that the press and others feel it is acceptable to talk about Meghan using terms such as ‘passes for white’ is frankly offensive to me and my kids and shows exactly why Anyone Can Be is needed.
“My daughter is mixed race or some prefer the term bi-racial and should be able to celebrate that. She should not have to identify as black or white or be seen to try and pass for white, just because people seem to find the concept hard to deal with.
“My children’s clothes celebrate all ethnicity and aspirations and whilst we have stayed with characters which some people might consider a gender stereotype, we have a lot of variety and in future we will also be looking at characters and garments which are representative of all races with options which are gender neutral, too.”
While Anyone Can Be is a small brand, its ambitions are admirably large, with the goal of taking its rightful place within the children’s clothing industry through high-street partnerships with established retailers.