Racked is no longer publishing. Thank you to everyone who read our work over the years. The archives will remain available here; for new stories, head over to Vox.com, where our staff is covering consumer culture for The Goods by Vox. You can also see what we’re up to by signing up here.
Neelam Gill became the first Indian women to star in a Burberry campaign in 2013. Since then, Gill has landed jobs with Kanye West (who she says is "so nice"), Dior, and Gap as well as covers for British Vogue and Elle India. However, her success hasn't come without its pitfalls, as Gill reveals in a lengthy interview with the Evening Standard.
"The comments I've received have been 90% good, but one bad remark can ruin your day," she tells the Evening Standard. "I don't care if people call me ugly but when it is about your skin colour that is unacceptable." She also speaks on the rampant discrimination models of color face.
"They say they keep being compared to me. Can’t agents see we aren’t all the same?’ Why does she think it is like that? ‘Designers don’t want to distract from the clothing. If you have a black girl, even if she looks amazing in the gown, she will stand out and they want the focus to be the collection. That’s wrong: India and China are huge markets for designers. They need to realise that fashion is so broad, and they should put models on the runway or in ad campaigns that girls can identify with."
However, she relays that her experiences with Burberry were all positive. "They made my skin darker with spray tan," she says. "They wanted to make me glowing because I was the first Indian to model for the brand and they were proud of that."
SO SURREAL!!! I'm on the cover of The Evening Standard. Thank you ES Magazine for giving me this platform to speak about issues close to my heart, such as: my family, racism, bullies and diversity in fashion. I moved to London nearly 2 years ago and had no clue my life would be this way, so watching all these strangers reading my story on the tube/bus is very overwhelming (but amazing)!! I'm just a girl from Coventry living her dream and trying to make a change in the world. Also, a big thank you to anyone who has followed me on this journey. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ @esmagofficial