Model Diversity Reaches New Heights at Tokyo Fashion Week

We here at Milk are all for diversity on the runway. While NYFW numbers did show some improvement, especially from young designers like Chromat and Gypsy Sport, models are still overwhelmingly very thin, white, and cis. Business of Fashion found that out of 3,875 model bookings made during fashion month, only 797 were models of color. That means that 79.4 percent of catwalkers were white. We wouldn’t order a sundae that was 79.4 percent vanilla, so get some variety in there! God forbid we ever learn the stats on queer or plus size models on the runway, because those numbers are surely also incredibly depressing.

But as we move on from the New York, London, Milan, and Paris shows, yet another fashion week is showing us how to really have a diverse runway. At Tokyo Fashion Week, designer Takafumi Tsuruta, of the line Tenbo, has been consistently committed to inclusivity. Tsuruta always casts models with disabilities for his runway shows, and he continued the theme at SS16. The models at Tenbo were of varying ages, sizes, shapes, and genders, and several were in wheelchairs or walked with canes. The models were singers and athletes and comedians. They all smiled and showed tons of personality on the runway; everyone looked like they were having a great time. It was dope!

Smiley smiley
Smiley smiley

“It is just natural for me that there are models with different personalities,” said Tsuruta.”You may think such a world is like a utopia, but it is the real world we live in. I want to showcase it through fashion.” Tsuruta’s eagerness to showcase different kinds of bodies should be echoed throughout the fashion industry. Hopefully, with shows like this, and things like the recent signing of muscular dystrophy-affected model Jillian Mercado, we’re seeing some more progress.

Images via The Huffington Post

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