The FW16 Diversity Report Verdict? Fashion Is Still Really White
The good news is that the fashion industry is more diverse than the Oscars. The bad news? It’s still whiter than a liberal arts college. The Fashion Spot’s seasonal Diversity Report is out and it shows the struggle to diversify is still marching along at a glacial pace despite modest gains during New York Fashion Week—thanks in part to three designers fighting for diversity. Kanye West may be in the headlines for Twitter beefs and misogynistic comments, but his 100% nonwhite model casting for his Yeezy Season 3 should not be overlooked. Zac Posen continued his commitment to racial equality, showing bags emblazoned with “Black Lives Matter” and enlisting a cast of models that was 87% nonwhite. Rounding out the top three was MADE designer Chromat, with a cast of models that were 85% nonwhite.
The Diversity Report looks at the fashion week shows—and the models casted—in New York, Milan, Paris, and London. Last year, the combined fashion weeks had 80% white models, and this year is a modest improvement, with 75.25% white models. And by “modest,” we mean there is now almost one nonwhite model to every three white models. At this rate, it should only take another decade to see full equality.
Broken down by city, New York led the pack with 28.4% nonwhite models compared to last year’s 24.4%. Milan and Paris barely improved and London actually was more white this season than last season. Of the many designers who cast exclusively white models—Junya Watanabe and Comme des Garçons, to name a few—the biggest scandal of the season came out of Paris Fashion Week. Rising star Demna Gvasalia hired only one nonwhite model to walk the runway at Balenciaga and a whopping no nonwhite models for his Vetements show.
Commitment to diversity wasn’t limited to race, though. The Diversity Report also looks at body diversity. Transgender people accounted for only eight of the models in shows while only 11 “aged” models walked the runway. Plus-size models were the least represented with only six appearing in shows. Expectations of diversity aren’t matching up to reality, but some casting agencies are trying to make a difference. IMG Models just announced they’re creating a men’s plus-size division, which puts them in line with agencies like Ugly Models, Lorde Inc, and Apple Model Management that have focused on scouting diverse models. Yet for all the progress that the industry has made, there’s still a long way to go toward full diversity.
Images via The Fashion Spot, i-D, Andrew Boyle, and Business of Fashion.
Stay tuned to Milk for more fashion diversity news.