The Fall 2016 Runways Were Just Slightly Less White Than Last Season's

Photo: WWD/REX/Shutterstock.
Talk of race in the context of fashion during the fall 2016 shows was pretty much dominated by the glaringly all-white castings on a whopping 10 catwalks this past season, with a particular focus on both of Demna Gvasalia’s showings (at his Balenciaga debut as well as his ultra-zeitgeist-y Vetements show). But how did the entire, four-city season worth of collections fare in terms of diversity on the runway? In a word, “meh.”

Just shy of one-quarter of castings in the fall 2016 shows were models of color, according to The Fashion Spot’s latest runway diversity report, released today. The report found that out of 312 shows, in which there were 8,727 models cast, 24.75% of the faces featured on the runway were non-white. That’s just a smidgen more diversity compared to the spring 2016 shows, which featured 22.4% models of color — and it’s a solid 4% jump in diversity compared to the fall 2015 shows a year ago.

Despite some gradual improvements in terms of racial diversity, size inclusivity took an embarrassing plunge this season. There were just six plus-size models featured in the 312 fall 2016 shows spread across all four cities — that’s a drastic drop from spring 2016’s (still pitiful) numbers, which included 14 plus-size models in total.

The racial-diversity numbers for the fall 2016 season, which could obviously still use some serious improvement, comprise some strikingly different stats city by city. To wit: New York, which has historically had the most diverse casting, is yet again the least whitewashed, with 31% models of color in the fall 2016 shows. The most diverse NYFW shows: Kanye West, Zac Posen, Chromat, and Sophie Theallet.

Paris was, quite surprisingly, the second most diverse slew of runways, with 21.9% non-white models — very ironic, considering the majority of the 10 entirely white shows were also in Paris. London, on the other hand, showed more homogenous model lineups than the previous two seasons.

How many more seasons will pass until the racial makeups of the runway reflect — or at least come within a couple percentage points of reflecting — real-life racial breakdowns? New York’s designers, we’re looking at you to lead the charge, given that NYFW has thus far been the most progressive in terms of representation: that means something in the ballpark of 38% models of color, based on the most recent U.S. Census findings (2014). Keep that in mind, casting directors and designers…
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