I have mentioned about the lack of diversity in modelling and how changing this will do wonders from a modelling perspective. In recent years there has been a positive change in the modelling industry, you are now seeing more plus sized women in magazines, France have even banned models that are under the healthy BMI to put a stop to the unrealistic and unhealthy representation of women. This are appealing more to the average women, which is amazing.
There has also been an increase in disabled models being featured in major designers ad campaigns, even ‘celebrities’ I use this term loosely, such as Kylie Jenner was featured in a photoshoot….in a wheelchair, although this caused a lot of controversy. It definitely made a lot of people take notice and speak out about this issue.
So why is there is still a huge lack of diversity amongst models of a different race?
Whitewashed runways, campaigns and magazine editorials have been a lasting reality in the world of fashion. There’s no denying that a racism problem exists. This problem is not confined to the runways. Paris Vogue Editor in Chief, Emmanuelle Alt, has not used an African or Asian model on the cover of her magazine in over two years. She’s been in charge of 24 issues, which have included four covers of Kate Moss and one of Gisele Bundchen’s bum. Lord forbid she inject a bit of diversity!
French Numero is also a culprit, publishing a very questionable editorial, showing white American model Ondria Hardin, with darkened skin. The spread was given the title ‘African Queen’. Although the magazine apologised for any offence caused – stating they have “regularly demonstrated… deep attachment to different skin-coloured models’”- of the last 141 covers, only three models that were featured, were not white.
Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo are all ranked within the top 20 international markets for fashion. Designers and brands like Philip Lim, Alexander Wang and Comme Des Garcons have been paving the way in western market for the influx of luxury brands that are gushing to Asian shores. Yet how many designers have Asian models in their shows? The stats are as follows; During the New York Fashion Week, Fall 2013 fashion shows. 151 New York designers showcased at fashion week, providing 4479 ‘looks’. White models wore 82.7% of these looks. Only 9.1% of looks were shown on Asian models, and Black models were employed for just 6% of looks. Non-white Latin models presented 2% of the looks and models with races not defined by these categories were given 0.2%. Many designers – including big names like Calvin Klein and Juicy Couture – employed no models of colour at all. These statistics are shameful.
Also emerging as a big-tier consumer, is the city of Dubai, with several fashion houses such as Chloe, and Elie Saab setting up flagship stores there. Now, if the people of these cities are some of the biggest consumers of your brand, why wouldn’t you use your promotion strategies to appeal to them? If people don’t see themselves wearing or using products, they are far less likely to buy them. Brands take note: visibly seeing your race(s) represented makes the path to purchase easier.
More influential people in fashion need to stop playing the blame game – agents blaming designers for not hiring a diverse mix of models, designers blaming agents for not providing non-white models – and work together for some real change.
Fortunately, there are many people speaking out about this issue. Supermodels Iman, Naomi Campbell and Bethann Hardison established the Diversity Coalition, writing to the fashion councils of New York, London, Milan and Paris, to demand change.
A good model is a good model, and they should be able to adopt any character, regardless of their skin colour xxx