A group of undergraduates founded a fashion magazine called the Lavender Room last semester to showcase the work of people from underrepresented backgrounds.
The publication seeks to celebrate fashion photography and artwork created by students of diverse backgrounds. Mataya Philbrick ’24, co-president of the Lavender Room, said she and her co-founders formed the group at the beginning of the fall semester.
Philbrick emphasized that the publication seeks to engage a broad 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 only people of color, but a broader and more diverse image of different bodies, shapes, sizes, gender identities, and gender expressions.”
Nur Kader ’24, co-president of the magazine, said the organization’s goals extend beyond simply publishing a magazine.
“Our hope with the idea of all these events is that the Lavender Room room isn’t just a print magazine, but that we also have space to do events and all these other things,” Kader said. “It’s more of a space where people can gather to discuss fashion.”
Philbrick said that the organization aims to create a physical space and medium on campus where marginalized communities can feel safe to explore their creativity.
“We want to make sure that all those people have a really great place on this campus to be able to share all of those ideas and all of that 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 on how women of color, especially in fashion, have been ignored and denied entrance for such a long time,” she said.
In order to create an inclusive space, the organization plans to hold a completion comp and provide technical training to new members rather than expect expertise, Philbrick said.
“We’ve been working 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 be talking about the all-Black folk cover and how representation and fashion stems from that conversation.”
Kader said though the publication will center around Harvard, they hope to engage the greater Boston area.
“Our magazine would focus on Harvard, but we’re also thinking about the community that we’re in as a whole,” Kader said. “We would also love to do stuff in Cambridge or Boston, so not just Harvard specifically.”
Philbrick said that while the publication has faced challenges in becoming an official club on campus and navigating logistics, she has found the experience fulfilling.
“It hasn’t been easy,” Philbrick said. “But, I have to say, in every single step of the process, it’s been really heartwarming seeing us all come together.”
—Staff writer Monique I. Vobecky can be reached at [email protected]