A group of undergraduates founded a fashion magazine called Lavender Room last semester to showcase the work of people from underrepresented backgrounds.
The publication aims to celebrate fashion photography and artwork created by students from diverse backgrounds. Lavender Room co-president Mataya Philbrick ’24 said she and her co-founders formed the group at the start of the fall semester.
Philbrick emphasized that the publication seeks to engage a wide range of identities and audiences.
“The Lavender Room is a magazine publication that aims to promote and share the ideas of people of color,” Philbrick said. “Not just people of color, but a broader, more diverse picture of different bodies, shapes, sizes, gender identities, and gender expressions.”
Nur Kader ’24, the magazine’s co-chair, said the organization’s goals go beyond just publishing a magazine.
“Our hope with the idea of all these events is that the Lavender Room is not just a print magazine, but that we also have space to hold events and all these other things,” Kader said. “It’s more of a space where people can come together to discuss fashion.”
Philbrick said the organization aims to create physical space and support on campus where marginalized communities can feel safe to explore their creativity.
“We want to make sure that all of these people have a really great place on this campus to be able to share all of these ideas and all of this love and expression that comes from fashion,” she said.
Philbrick added that the group also hopes to raise awareness about the marginalization of women of color in the fashion industry.
“Our secondary goal is to educate about how women of color, especially in fashion, have been ignored and barred from entry for so long,” she said.
In order to create an inclusive space, the organization plans to hold a completion competition and provide technical training for new members rather than waiting for expertise, Philbrick said.
“We worked in conjunction with the Learning Labs to provide training to all new members for cameras and photography, as well as posing and composition,” Philbrick said. “We have another event coming up in partnership with [Harvard African Students Association] on the 18th where we’re going to talk about all-black folk coverage and how representation and fashion stem from that conversation.
Kader said that while the publication focuses on Harvard, they hope to engage the greater Boston area.
“Our magazine would focus on Harvard, but we also think about the community we find ourselves in as a whole,” Kader said. “We would also like to do things in Cambridge or Boston, so not just Harvard in particular.”
Philbrick said that while the publication struggled to become an official on-campus club and manage logistics, she found the experience rewarding.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Philbrick said. “But, I have to say, every step of the way, it’s been really heartwarming to see us all together.”
—Editor Monique I. Vobecky can be reached at [email protected]