Amnah H Knight 33 London
Categories: Editor, Fashion, Magazine, Publisher, Zine

Posted: 21st September 2017

There are some people that express their frustrations with the fashion industry and do sweet nothing about them and there are others, who channel their frustrations into positive change. Amnah H Knight is one of the latter. Based in London by way of the Middle East, Amnah’s fascination with magazines was born when she first started visiting the capital during summers as a child. Whilst she was initially captivated by the British newspaper rack, having never encountered such content before, she soon became sick of flicking through the same staid pages month after month. The magazines were filled with homogenized ideals – whether that be age, gender, body type or race – and the pages gave Amnah anything but a sense of belonging, leading her to believe that there wasn't a place for her, or people like her, in the industry.

Fast forward to 2016 and Amnah had decided enough was enough. Having spent hours discussing the DNA of the fashion industry with close friend and writer Tom Rasmussen, before identifying that it is often built upon foundations that favour exclusion over inclusion, Amhah took things into her own hands and the pair co-founded annual publication Cause & Effect. Something of a snapshot of the creative and diverse fashion and art found on the streets of London, the magazine prides itself on celebrating craftsmanship and platforming unheard voices and unseen bodies with something to say, in turn giving people the opportunity to be part of fashion’s fantasy. A true marriage of fashion and politics, the conversations covered include everything from mental health, race and body type, to gender, sex and sexuality, featuring the artists, makers, activists, models, photographers, designers and writers working on the fringes today. Meanwhile stories about fat-shaming, fetishism and living as a drag queen in London via the Middle East grace the pages, each sitting within one of the magazine’s three chapters: community, space and self.

The current issue is testament to this, featuring vogue house mother and HIV+ activist Kia Labeija, New York trans female dancer and FKA Twigs collaborator Imma, and Belgian political designer Walter Van Beirendonck, amongst others. The magazine doesn’t stop there though.

Each issue of Cause & Effect – now stocked in the likes of MoMa, Magculture, Tate Modern, Wardour News (where it sold out twice over) – has an ‘Out of Print’ section, that sees the magazine collaborate with an artist of a different medium on a body of work, accessible for readers by way of a secret code on the back pages.

This summer also saw Amnah host “Woke… But Then Make It Fashion” – a series of talks surrounding the challenges of creating a genuinely diverse mag, in collaboration with new London bookstore Libreria. But when it comes to her personal long-term mission, Amnah would like to turn Cause & Effect into a publishing house, in order to continue to empower people, through storytelling that’s honest, dignified and truthful in its approach. It’s safe to say Amnah is one of the figures spearheading an indie publishing movement that prides itself on inclusion and true diversity, not one that’s tokenistic in its approach. When it comes to the publishing house, we’ll be backing that Kickstarter.

Words by Brooke McCord

Tell us about yourself and what you do: I am the co-founder and editor-in-chief of an annual publication called Cause & Effect. Why did you decide to create Cause & Effect? My co-founder and I wanted to create a platform for voices that we personally felt weren’t being heard and had so many important things to say. We wanted it to be fully inclusive. We wanted to see a publication that was inherently diverse – NOT token diversity, and by diverse we mean: diverse in work experience, sex, ethnicity, age, body type and more.What's your mission? MY mission is to turn Cause & Effect into a publishing house one day. Cause & Effect’s mission is to empower, to be fully inclusive and to tell people’s stories with honesty, dignity and truth. We want to explore beauty beyond the realms of the unachievable, the non-diverse. We want to discuss mental health, race, body type, gender, sex, sexuality in a candid way, in a beautiful way, and in an accessible way.How do you decide on your cover stars? We wanted people on our cover who we admired and whose work, personality and politics we felt encompassed the Cause & Effect voice. Walter Van Beirendonck is an incredible designer who continues to create forward thinking fashion without selling out – always sticking to his vision and integrating his politics into his work. Kia is a HIV+ activist and an amazing artist and dancer. She beautifully transforms living with HIV into her art. Torraine and Dinah use their work (Torraine’s music, Dinah’s drag) to dissect gender identity. So, each one of our cover stars use their art as a form of activism or are activists in their own right. Can you tell us about The Exquisite Mirror? Tom Rasmussen (Cause & Effect’s co-founder and executive editor) and I created The Exquisite Mirror together 2-3 years ago as a way to break down social constructs through a photography book. I am hugely inspired by the Surrealist art movement and wanted to create a flipbook based on a game they used to play called The Exquisite Corpse. We also wanted the styling to mirror – if you will – the spirit of Surrealist art. In Tom’s words: “It dissects the social categories within which we exist. Through altering parts of the body at your will, we wish to take the prescriptive nature away from the fashion image and the human form, allowing the viewer to deform and reform their ideals of the ‘perfect’. This ‘perfect’ is also prescribed – at the same time being, paradoxically, subjective – and through unifying a diverse spectrum of subjects in the following work we ask you to question these ideals and create a space where categories disappear.” When we first created it you could physically alter the head torso and legs like a proper flip book to really interact with it. Then I wanted it to be more accessible so I turned it into a website. Go check it out at are you most excited to be working on right now? I’m still trying to get Cause & Effect’s message out there to as many people as possible, so we’re still contacting retailers to stock it, planning a few more exciting events, so that's still really exciting - seeing the magazine grow. But what I am REALLY excited about working on now is a secret project that’s integral to turning Cause & Effect into a publishing house. So I’m hoping to have another publication released under Cause & Effect publications in 2018. How would your friends describe you in a sentence? I asked two of my closest friends so I'm just gonna put down words that they used to describe me: headstrong, passionate, generous, strong intuition and loves tequila. Lol. But how I think they see me: a mad woman who is obsessed with her dog… AND tequila. When are you happiest? When I am holding a margarita in one hand and a cigarette in the other (preferably in Mexico). When I first walk out of the airport of a country I've never been to. When I'm hugging my husband and my dog.What’s your best advice? 1) If anyone says anything shitty, discouraging and mean-spirited to hurt you – it has EVERYTHING to do with them and their insecurities and NOTHING to do with you. 2) Never compare yourself and where you are in life to others (I know it’s hard with social media and I’ve been guilty of it myself). Everyone has a different path in life, and each path is unique to you – it is fundamentally what will shape you and allow you to grow and thrive. I changed careers and started from scratch at 30 and it was terrifying, but the best thing I ever did! Book club recommendations? The Good Immigrant (by Nikesh Shukla) is a collection of 21 essays of what it means to be a person of colour today. It is a VERY important read – I couldn’t recommend it enough!Song to be playing as you enter the club? ANYTHING by Sean Paul! I fucking love Sean Paul. Biggest lie you were told as a kid? Everything that was taught to me in religious studies. And finally... What's next? Cause & Effect publications! Fingers crossed! AND FINALLY...WHO IS YOUR NEXT BABYFACE GIRL SUGGESTION?Who: Soofiya Andry
Why: They're an incredible graphic designer, artist and activist. I admire them so much! They have a body of work that's just so inspiring and their zine Bloody Hell (which is one of my many favourites of their work) is about people’s experience with menstruation – and it's brilliant! they're radical, kind, generous and brave. And oh-so very talented!
Contact Amnah H Knight