With every Fashion Month comes the question: Should we celebrate the industry's progression when it comes to diversity and inclusivity, or should we condemn how far it still has to go? With so many facets to consider — race, age, size, gender — fashion has the responsibility to represent everyone. But The Fashion Spot's seasonal Runway Diversity report, released Thursday, shows that while designers have made certain strides when it comes to casting models for their runways and presentations, there are a lot of holes that still need to be filled.
Just two years ago, there was a time when certain designers would not cast a single model of colour. But with campaigns like #blackmodelsmatter and a continuous push for racial inclusivity, the autumn 2018 season is now the most diverse in history, with 32.5% of castings going to models of colour, a 2.3% increase from spring 2018. It also saw some major, though well overdue, accolades: Anok Yai became the first Black woman to open a Prada show since Naomi Campbell in 1997, and the Comme des Garcons runway featured Black models for the first time in 20 years. Plus, half of the season's top models were women of colour, with the number one spot going to Kenyan model Shanelle Nyasiase, who walked 43 shows. Nyasiase currently ranks on Models.com's Hot List, and is currently the face of H&M, Sies Marjan, and Alexander McQueen.
The autumn 2018 runways also saw a record number of transgender and non-binary appearances, with 64 total (a year ago, that number was just 12). Leading the charge was, of course, Teddy Quinlivan, one of the most in demand models of the moment, but it was exciting to see other faces in the mix, including Massima Lei, Hunter Schafer, Benedict Douglas Stewardson, and Dara Allen.
And now for where the industry missed the mark. Despite its continued charge for more body inclusivity, the number of plus-size model appearances dropped from September 2017 to February 2018, with just 30 castings. Most walked in New York City, at brands that consistently promote diversity, like Christian Siriano, Chromat, Prabal Gurung, Michael Kors, and Eckhaus Latta. The mission for body positivity still doesn't seem to be catching on in Europe, though: Paris saw two plus-size models, London featured one, and Milan had zero. All we have to say is, the industry needs to do better.
The same goes for the industry's continuous issue with ageism. The Fashion Spot reports that "women in their 50s, 60s, and upward were...the least represented category," with brands like Eckhaus Latta, Creatures of Comfort, and The Row being some of the few to cast older models.
If fashion is meant to cater to all people, then it's time the runways became a better reflection of what all people actually look like — that means different sizes, backgrounds, and more.