Adwoa Aboah may not quite be a household name just yet, but expect that to change any moment. That's because Ms. Aboah, a London native who has modeled for Marc Jacobs, Fendi, and on Rihanna's Paris Puma catwalk, is about to have a massive 2017, thanks to the perfect storm of fashion cred and feminist creed.
You see, the 24 year old is more than just a model. In addition to stomping catwalks, she's founded Gurls Talk, a web hub devoted to hosting and supporting female-focused dialogue. Recent themes include Anxiety and Art, Chronic Illness vs. Teen Independence, and a Q&A on plastic surgery with Lykke Li.
Aside from shaking the internet and posing for Donatella, Aboah's got more kicks than a Rockette, thanks to her never-ending sneaker addiction. So it's fitting we should meet the model at the Adidas #TLKS series in Miami, where we speak about activism, chatbots, and sharks. Real ones, not cartoons. Just in case you were wondering...
Adidas is launching their first chat bot. Scary or cool?
So a chat bot is a one-on-one automatic personal responder, right? It's a very cool idea.
Do you want a chat bot?
I have a very bad memory. So I would like a chat bot to just remind me of everything I forget. I spend my entire life on Google trying to remember stuff. But for GurlsTalk, we actually do need a chat bot, don't we? We need it to communicate with all the wonderful women who get in touch with us worldwide. To help us keep track of everyone's insights.
When you launched GurlsTalk, did you have any anxiety about the inherent tensions between being a model and being a feminist thought leader?
No, because activism goes with every different job, I think. Fashion, music, film, everything. It's about cultural forums and movements and collectives of people taking a stand. That's all activism is. I've been lucky enough to have been given a platform through modeling, so now I can use it as an activist. But you've got to be specific in your issues. Like diversity in fashion is still an issue, right? That's something that needs to be talked about still, and people are probably thinking, "This is getting to be a boring conversation. Haven't we seen enough black models? Haven't we seen enough Asian models?" Ehh. In each collective, in each group we stand within, we can do something.
How do you make a female-focused website into an inclusive space for all types of women? Can you? Should you?
Well, I guess I've always been like, "You don't have to identify as a feminist to be part of GirlsTalk." I mean, if you want to be a part of GurlsTalk, you most probably are a feminist, and you just don't know what the word means. Not to be mean about it, but yeah… [Laughing.]
That does keep me up at night, though. I want to get all women involved to express whatever they want to express. It's a learning tool for me as well. I've just been going through a breakup, and Alice [Joiner] came on our site to talk about her love life, and I just identified with her story so much! So I'm just giving people an available space where they can meet up and talk.
Can we talk about sneakers?
Am I allowed to call them sneakers, or do I have to call them "trainers" because you're British?
I call them "trainers" but that's because if I tried to call them "sneakers," I'd sound like a dork and everyone would make fun of me. My mum calls them "running shoes." You can definitely call them sneakers, but I feel like I probably can't!
What were the first sneakers / trainers / running shoes you ever bought with your own money?
Ohhh, it was a pair of camo army print Adidas Originals shell toes. I lived in them until my parents threw them away because they were so trashed. I was about 11, and I bought them with my allowance. I really saved up for them. I wore them with gray skinny denim jeans and a dress on top. My mum [fashion agent Camilla Lowther] brought the jeans back from a trip to New York City. It was before you could really get skinny jeans everywhere, and so this outfit was a really big deal for me. The shoes made it. I've lived in shell toes since then. I'm wearing them now.
As a model and a style expert—
Ha. Are you really writing that?
Probably, yeah! Okay, where is is not okay to wear sneakers? Red carpets? Black tie? How far can you take this shell toe obsession?
Oh, I'm the wrong person to ask. I wear trainers everywhere. Weddings, parties, definitely red carpets and fashion events. It's bad. And listen, I love shoes. I love high heels. But I buy trainers all the time.
And because 2017 will require some escapism: beach or pool?
Pool. Definitely pool. But my favorite is a salt water pool.
The ocean is literally a salt water pool.
No. I don't like the sea because there's too many animals.
You're a badass and you're afraid of... like, sharks?
It's frightening to me! You don't know what's down there!