Diversity, of All Kinds, Is on the Rise at Fashion Shows – New York Times

Advertisement

Photo

Backstage at the fall 2017 Gypsy Sport show in New York. A report found that 27.9 percent of models who walked the runways this season were minorities, higher than in years past.

Credit
Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

If it seemed as though the runways in New York, London, Milan and Paris were more diverse than usual this season, that’s because they were.

A new report compiled by The Fashion Spot, which assessed 241 shows, found that 27.9 percent of the models who walked the fall 2017 runways were minorities, the highest proportion recorded since The Fashion Spot began tracking the data two and a half years ago.

New York, where 31.5 percent of the models were nonwhite, led the charge, and Milan came in last. All of the shows that the report looked at in New York included at least one model of color, and all five of the shows that ranked highest for racial diversity across the four cities were held in New York (Gypsy Sport, Chromat, Kimora Lee Simmons, Yeezy and Marc Jacobs).

“I personally don’t think 31.5 percent is enough, but it’s definitely an improvement,” said Jennifer Davidson, the editor in chief of The Fashion Spot, a web publication and forum for fashion insiders.

Photo

Dolce & Gabbana’s show had several models who were nonwhite, plus-size or aged 50 or older.

Credit
Tiziana Fabi/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

In its first reports, The Fashion Spot looked only at racial diversity, but it later began assessing size, age and transgender identity as well.

“We kept adding categories as attitudes changed,” Ms. Davidson said. “As more calls for racial diversity started, there were calls also for different sizes. Age and transgender identity haven’t gotten as much visibility, but we thought it was important to highlight those in order to make sure the runways become more representative of the population buying the clothes.”

This season, there were 12 transgender models, and 21 women aged 50 or older.

Thirty plus-size models walked the runways, up from 16 last season and six the season before that, though most of the appearances were in New York. Ashley Graham — who is becoming something of a supermodel, with history-making appearances on the covers of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, and of British and American Vogue — became the first plus-size model to walk in a Michael Kors show (she was also the only plus-size model in the show).

Nonetheless, Sara Ziff, the founder of the Model Alliance, a labor advocacy organization that recently published a study on “extreme thinness standards in the fashion industry,” believes there is plenty of room for improvement across all of the categories.

After all, though the number of plus-size models has grown, it still makes up less than 1 percent of the castings. And though many labels featured at least some models of color, several — Junya Watanabe, Undercover and Trussardi — included none, and many others had just a few.

Photo

Backstage at the Chromat show, where less than a quarter of the models were white.

Credit
Jamie Mccarthy/Getty Images for Chromat

“There’s still a lot of tokenism,” Ms. Ziff said. “It’s the designer or casting director trying to check the inclusivity box, and that is problematic for the models. They go to a casting, and they’re told, ‘We’ve already cast a black model.’”

Tokenism can play out on a larger scale as well, giving the impression that the industry is transforming, when in reality, the changes are small. For example, in early March, Vogue published a story with the headline “Was Fall 2017 the Season Curves Conquered the Runways?” It was a record-breaking season, true, but only 11 shows included plus-size models (two of them, Christian Siriano and Chromat, accounted for half of those appearances), and three of them featured the same two women, Candice Huffine and Marquita Pring.

Similarly, Ms. Aden made headlines for wearing a hijab while walking in several shows, including Yeezy and Max Mara. However, she was one model. Whether her appearance was an exception or a precursor to more inclusion is something only time will tell.

Gilleon Smith, the casting director for Chromat, which had five plus-size and five transgender models (and more models of color than white models), thinks that there is plenty of talent for designers to choose from and that making the runways more inclusive is entirely within their power.

“Sometimes the line at our castings is wrapped around the block,” she said. “It’s up to the designers to make those decisions. They drive the ship.”

Continue reading the main story

Source link