The story behind BIND London and why Rihanna’s Vogue cover mattered
What do you think of when you hear the word ‘durag’?
Does Vogue magazine come to mind? Probably not.
That’s why the latest Vogue cover was such a jaw dropping moment for me.
Let me explain.
My name is Kayleigh Benoit and I’m the founder of BIND London, a high-fashion sportswear brand.
As someone passionate about contributing to people’s physical wellbeing, my seven-year fitness journey has taken me from just wanting to lose a few pounds, to getting holiday ready, to finally becoming a dedicated gym goer and personal trainer.
At the time of writing, I am also two years into my natural hair journey. What does that have to do with anything you ask?
Well, reconciling the two was initially much harder than I thought.
After regularly moaning to my friend about how difficult it was to maintain our natural hair whilst working out and posting our sweaty, messy hair selfies on Instagram captioned ‘The Struggle Is Real’, I had an idea that had the potential to make the two work better together after all.
What if someone created dedicated headscarves for the gym? And what if that someone was me?
My granny used to say ‘Whilst the engine is hot, let it roll’, so I did just that and started developing the idea. After conducting some market research I decided to bring out a collection, as opposed to just one product.
The whole thing quickly developed into the aspiration for a brand.
I knew there was a need in my community and I was determined to meet it.
I wanted to create a collection of designs that made women feel included, no matter their hair type.
I wanted to create designs influenced by style and our culture – that’s how Origins MMXX, my first collection, was born.
Five of the six designs were completed quite quickly: A medium and thick band (for a range of hair types and usages) a head wrap (I don’t know about you, but I need full coverage when it comes to hot yoga!), a head scarf, and hijab. Designs that are functional for workouts but could be rocked as athleisure or streetwear attire too. But something was missing.
It cost me extra to add it in (eeek) but its cultural significance was the only thing that made the collection feel, ‘complete’. I didn’t know if anyone would even buy a sporty durag, but seeing guys (and girls) flexing their waves after removing their durags at a festival, I got caught up in #duragswag.
It was a risky decision, but I just knew I had to go with my gut.
So can you imagine my excitement the moment I saw that Vogue cover on Ri Ri’s Instagram?
I was like, wait, what? A durag? On the front cover?
Needless to say I bought the issue instantly (as part of my lockdown essential items of course).
If you didn’t know, by wearing a durag on the cover of British vogue, Rihanna made history – literally. In its 104-year history the magazine had never seen anything like it.
The function of a durag is to hold men’s wavy hairstyles in place, as putting the durag on compresses the hairstyle and keeps it neat. Many Instagram pages and online groups today are dedicated to durag fashion or #duragswag, where groups will record themselves untying their durag and unveiling their fresh waves. Women also wear it as a way to protect their hairstyles and ‘lay down’ their hair when going to bed as a way to retain moisture. The durag today is a powerful fashion statement in the black community, worn by many as a stylish accessory. But it wasn’t always like that.
Funmi Fetto, contributing editor of British Vogue, describes the durag as a way to, in the past, ‘suppress black women’s beauty’ as it was worn on the heads of female slaves.
Fast forward to 2020, the durag and all its symbolism was having ‘a powerful mic-drop moment’. Rihanna wearing it as part of an androgynous look, teamed with a Burberry shirt and black tie was everything.
I am so grateful to Rihanna and Edward Enninful OBE, Editor-in-Chief of British Vogue, for creating such a monumental fashion look. A look that uses high fashion to celebrate our culture. That cover meant a lot to me personally and confirmed I made the right decision by adding the durag to the collection.
The message behind the cover is exactly what I’m bringing to the table with BIND London. The brand believes in standing out from the norm, breaking comfort zones and pushing boundaries.
We all matter and deserve to be on the cover of our own lives magazines – just like Rihanna in her durag.
To find out more about BIND London, visit our website and follow us on @bindlondon (IG) –BIND London is set to launch later this year with the first collection Origins MMXX. BIND London have joined with Natwest ‘Back Her Business’ with the aim to raise £10,000 to crowdfund the launch. You can support the crowdfund which is now live.
Follow the journey so far, on Instagram @bindlondon we’re launching the first collection (including the durag) later this year and can’t wait for you to get yours!
BIND London is set to launch later this year with their first collection Origins MMXX. They have joined forces with Natwest ‘Back Her Business’ to raise £10,000 to crowdfund the launch. You can support the crowdfund which is now live.