NFYW is in full swing and the next best looks are on 70several runways. But there's still an underlying issue many designers and models are facing. Young girls are facing it, too--diversity on the runway.
It's no secret "high fashion" has been heavily saturated with white models for as long as we can remember. Sure, there are notable models of color, but the field is not as plentiful. Efforts to change this have been getting stronger and stronger.
Fashion icon and advocate Bethann Hardison has been hosting diversity panels at NYFW for the last few years. She's partnered with the CFDA to help push forward the agenda of having models of all races be commonplace in fashion generally, and fashion week shows, specifically. CFDA keeps quite busy on important causes like this, model health, and body image. With panels and campaigns pushing the industry to make changes, the question still remains whether fashion execs are listening...and if so, which ones, and how well are they doing?
The lack of diversity in fashion is not new, and is not solely about race. There are size, including height and weight disparities, too. The racial issue is of an increased relevance now, as the entertainment industry is also struggling with this issue. #OscarsSoWhite has been heavy on social media and in Hollywood board rooms as the industry battles its own diversity desert. When there were diversity problems in society in the past, laws were passed and policies were implemented to help guide the change. Does fashion need its own bylaws to make sure the models reflect the targeted consumer? Every consumer? Workplace fairness?
What's most interesting here is the irony in fashion being an industry built on trendsetting; what's new and different. Yet, the trends of its inception are what still guide the everyday practices of this billion-dollar industry. This financial success is not what it seems. The clothes change...well, they are a bit recycled decade to decade--but the look of the average model stays the same. Nearly 80% of the models in the major fashion week shows are white. What does this say to young African, Asian, and Hispanic children, wanting to walk a runway some day? Having entities like the Bailey Agency, Black Fashion Week USA, Harlem's Fashion Row, and others are critical, but we all know more is needed on all sides.
What efforts have you heard about to increase diversity in fashion?
Here are some fab looks of diversity in fashion. Hope you enjoy them as much as we do!