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Edward Enninful Talks His Gap Campaign, Unity & Why He Loves America

Photo courtesy of Gap
Photo courtesy of GAP

The British Vogue editor-in-chief directed Gap's latest initiative, Bridging the Gap.

Gap has long been an iconic brand in American culture. Their minimalist campaigns have featured everyone from Cindy Crawford to Madonna to Lenny Kravitz, all exuding a sense of life that many fashion campaigns trade in for sex appeal.

Gap's latest campaign continues that legacy with some of today's most promising talent. Bridging the Gap celebrates diversity and unity, utilizing the classic white t-shirt as a blank canvas, allowing such names as Priyanka Chopra, Jonathan Groff and Wiz Khalifa to celebrate their true selves. The cast sings along to Boney M's "Sunny" while sporting their Gap apparel, adding that extra level of fashionable fun.

For Bridging the Gap, the brand went across the pond to tap Edward Enninful to helm the campaign. OUT caught up with new British Vogue editor-in-chief to chat about white t-shirts, Gap's legacy, and why he loves America.

OUT: The Gap campaign demonstrates your love for American style and culture. How would you put that into words?

Edward Enninful: I guess Bridging the Gap is sort of an interpretation of my vision of American style. Growing up in England, I'd look at America, the land of the free, the home of the brave. I remember loving all the Gap ads with the black and white, where I'd see people that looked like me of different ages, races, and sexuality. This whole sort of American optimism I see in Gap has been with me from a young age, and I wanted to do something to celebrate that. I guess the idea was that I wanted to do something that celebrated togetherness, the idea of coming together to change the world through proclivity. And it was very important to see people who are living their truths. I wanted a cast that represented American culture today. And I know people ask me why the basic t-shirt, but it was important to have something that acted as a blank canvas, something that could sort of help people display their unique selves, but at the same time, unite them. So, it was a real great project to put together. It's my view of the American dream.

I love the cast. It's a lot of really talented people.

Yea, everybody, I sort of have a personal relationship with. They weren't chosen for Instagram followers or whatever. They're people who I've become close with over the years, people who I respect, people who have the same sort of positive approach to life. Half of them are not from America but half of them live in America. There's a positive way forward in each and every one of them. Everyone stands for something.

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Photo courtesy of Gap

Was it easy getting them to show their true selves on camera?

Yes, it was important that each one approached the project from a place of honesty and say what they had to say. Given the platform to be able to allow that, it's one of the best things I've done. Everyone still sort of loves America, and everyone's so optimistic about what we can do together for the future. That was the strongest message of all, I think.

How do you represent your true self through your own style?

I guess my story is that I come from immigrant parents, sort of England. I worked very hard through the ranks of fashion, and I try to be my authentic self. I'm a black, gay man living in 2017, growing up with all the things that come with it and being proud of who I am. That's my true self.

Congrats on your new position with British Vogue. How has the adjustment been?

I was with i-D for 20 years, and then I was at Italian Vogue, then American Vogue. So, it's a very exciting chapter to embark on.

Related | Diversity Champion Edward Enninful Named New Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue

Has the significance of being the first gay, black man in this position sunk in yet?

I'm just me, you know? I guess it's important to have labels but I've always just been me the best I could to the best of my abilities. I put the message that I wanted to put across through my work, really. I don't really look at myself like that but it's all good, it's all great.

How do you approach the perceived disconnect between the high fashion brands we see in British Vogue and brands like Gap that have such a larger reach?

I feel like the world we live in now is very much about mixing different cultures. It's very much about fashion cultures, at that. Nobody walks around anymore in one thing, head to toe, whether it be the most expensive label. I think the beauty of fashion right now is in the mix, taking something from here that's super expensive and mixing it with something that's not. And something. There's something more personal in the air that I love. I think that's what's good about fashion now, this sort of personal style and individuality. It's very, very exciting.

Find more info about Bridging the Gap at Gap. Watch Edward Enninful's campaign, below:

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