Nikita Parris Believes Targeting Communities Will Improve Diversity Of Women’s Game

On Monday, The Football Association launched an ambitious new four-year strategy titled ‘Inspiring Positive Change’. One of the stated aims was to increase the proportion of ethnic minorities playing women’s soccer in England. Only two members of the current Lionesses’ 28-player squad are non-white compared to almost half the members of the men’s squad.

One of those players, Nikita Parris believes the time has come to make a difference. “I feel so passionate that we should be providing young BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) girls who live within inner cities, the opportunity to easily access their local Centers of Excellence, so the vision of the new Women’s and Girls’ strategy is the right direction we should be taking to provide more opportunities to those who may not have had it before”.

The 52-page strategy proclaims that “there is much to do to make football genuinely ‘For All’. The level of engagement with females from diverse communities is not where it should be. We believe the route to change this is to identify, develop and support local leadership that is grounded in the lived experience of every girl to help us facilitate football for everyone”.

Parris, who grew up in the Toxeth suburb of Liverpool, the daughter of a single mother who was working three jobs to make ends meet, is now a double Champions League winner, leading the line for Olympique Lyonnais the most successful club side in the world. Yet as a young girl, she required funding from Sports Aid, a UK charity that aims to help the next generation of British sports stars. Looking back, she realises how much she relied on the support of others to travel to training and matches. “I don’t believe it was the only way, but it certainly would have been harder, had I not had support from family, friends and the other parents from the team that I played for. A large majority of the time, (Everton manager) Mo Marley and (her husband) Keith Marley picked me up and took me, to and from training, 45 minutes each way. We didn’t live too far apart but we’re not next-door neighbors, so for them to go out of their way to pick me up, to take me to training speaks volumes of the people they are. It really helped me become the player I am today. Without their support, it wouldn’t have been possible”.

When Parris was first called up to represent England at youth level, the senior head coach was a black woman, Hope Powell, and up to a quarter of the squad was black. Now, Parris and her former Manchester City team-mate Demi

Elise By Olsen, a Millennial Who Seriously Believes in Print, Founds a Fashion Library

At 21, Elise By Olsen has racked up more accomplishments and flight miles than people double her age. She began publishing her own youth culture magazine at 13, becoming something like Norway’s answer to Tavi Gevinson. After putting Recens Paper aside, she debuted the small-format magazine, Wallet. Today, Olsen is launching her most ambitious project to date: the International Library of Fashion Research.

This collection consists of all sorts of printed matter, everything from show invites to rare books, and it will chart the history of fashion from 1970 forward. It’s home base is Oslo, but as the scope of the project is international, and Olsen generally spends 10 months out of 12 on the road, it has the potential to travel, and the founder says she is open to rethinking what an institution, or library, can be today.

Olsen thinks of herself as more of an entrepreneur and a media person more than a fashion one, per se: “I feel like I have one foot in, one foot out. I like to create businesses and companies and publish publications and fashion has been like the filter for that… but that is a coincidence. It could have been anything,” she said on a recent Zoom chat. The International Library of Fashion Research is much more than a business proposition, though; it’s a passion project built upon an gift from Olsen’s mentor of many years, the self-described “brand author and identity designer” and the cultural theorist Steven Mark Klein (known also as the “architect of influence” or “freelance outlaw”), which he presented her when he decided to retire.

As Klein’s instructions were to guard and grow the collection, the first thing Olsen needed to do was find a space for it, and she has been given room on the campus of the National Museum. The digital institution is accessible to the public starting today. According to Olsen the library offers a “maximized digital experience,” but not one that tries to mimic reality. “Especially during COVID,” she notes, there’s been so much [that’s gone] digital, I just feel really saturated online.” To that end collaborative programs are being designed. One of the questions Olsen asked herself while developing this project was: “How can we create a library that, yes, guards the past, but also creates conversations for the future? Something that my generation would want to interact with?”

From New York City…

Olsen absolutely refutes the generally held ideas that print is dead and that millennials are “a non-literate generation” that “have completely digital lives.” She also rejects the idea that Norwegians give no thought to fashion. The fact that Oslo is, in her words, “decentralized” and “off-the-grid” she sees as being a plus.

… to Oslo.

The pandemic has revealed not only an insatiable appetite for