Times they are a-changing — at least, as far as New York Fashion Week is concerned. According to The Fashion Spot’s bi-annual diversity report, the spring summer 2019 season (which counts 76 major shows and 2,203 model appearances) was the most representative across different races, sizes, ages, and genders than ever before at NYFW.
The good news, The Fashion Spot is reporting, is this is the first season that nonwhite models have accounted for over 40 percent of castings, and the fourth wherein every New York runway show included at least one model of colour. However, the bulk of the diverse castings were left to a handful of shows. South Korean model Yoon Young Bae tied with Maastricht-born beauty Kiki Willems as the most booked model, while Sudanese-Australian model Adut Akech, who booked 11 shows, came in second place. Chinese-Nigerian model Adesuwa Aighewi, Dominican model Anyelina Rosa, African-American model Selena Forrest, Chinese model Chen Siqi and South Korean model Sora Choi, each booked 10 shows.
This season saw a big improvement in body diversity, too. 70+ non-straight-sized models walked during NYFW. Though usual suspects like Siriano (12 models) and Chromat (13) contributed to this heavily, brands like Michael Kors (2), Cushnie (3), Mara Hoffman (3), and Sies Marjan (2) all added curve models to their repertoire. Rihanna's first runway show for her Savage x Fenty lingerie line had an incredibly diverse model line-up that featured 14 curve and two pregnant models (including Slick Woods, who reportedly went into labour backstage). Gypsy Sport cast six, Studio 189, Miaou, and Kim Shui cast three, Eckhaus Latta, Tome, Lou Dallas, and Prabal Gurang cast two, and Collina Strada cast one.
The Fashion Spot is also noting trans and non-binary models were able to land so much high-exposure work, thanks to Gypsy Sport, Opening Ceremony and The Blonds' shows, as well as Monse, Michael Kors, Tory Burch, Jeremy Scott, Oscar de la Renta, Coach 1941, Matthew Adams Dolan, Eckhaus Latta, Kate Spade, and Marc Jacobs. Spring 2019 was the most age-diverse New York Fashion Week on record with 12 (0.54 percent) over-50 castings for the Spring Summer 2019 season, as compared with nine (0.39 percent) for Autumn Winter 2018.
Chromat, Gypsy Sport, Prabal Gurung, Savage x Fenty, Tome, Christian Siriano, Michael Kors, The Blonds, Opening Ceremony, Marc Jacobs, Coach 1941 and Marco Marco’s shows all showed true inclusivity across race, gender, and size. Chromat had it all, Savage x Fenty was really a sight to see, and Christian Siriano, as usual, presented a diverse offering. Tome was the most age, size and race inclusive. As The Fashion Spot points out, "it’s clear New York brands are getting away from tokenism, especially in the race, size and gender identity realms. Not only that, the progress seems solid." Ultimately, however, the work can't continue to be done by only a few brands.