Runway Diversity Is Improving, But Not Enough

Photographed by Ben Sklar.
Today in disappointing-but-not-surprising news, we look at the results of The Fashion Spot's biannual report on racial diversity on the fall '15 runways. TFS found that, while this season's shows were slightly more diverse than last season's, 80% of models cast in New York, London, Milan, and Paris' women's shows were white. That's only a tiny squeak better than last season's 82% white models, and still pretty abysmal overall. As always, there were some bright spots. TFS called out London-based designer Ashish for having the most racially diverse runway for the second season in a row. Last season, Ashish cast all Black models, and this time around, he hired 60% models of color — thus proving that his commitment to diversity was no one-season stunt.  New York designer Zac Posen (at whose show the above pic was taken), also bucked the trend of white-dominated runways by employing 60% models of color (compared to 53% last season). Posen has been praised before by model-turned-activist Bethann Hardison for his continuing commitment to hiring models of color. Kenzo, Balmain, and Moschino also made the most-diverse list. Meanwhile, the 10 least-diverse runways included heavy-hitters like Saint Laurent, Ann Demeulemeester, and red carpet favorite Elie Saab. Several shows featured an almost-unbelievable zero models of color, a figure that would seem difficult to achieve unless one actively tried.
There's lots more info to chew on at TFS, and lots of change to be made in an industry whose runways have hovered at around 80% white since the site began counting. But, as showrunner Shonda Rhimes recently pointed out to Variety, diversity shouldn't be thought of as "something unusual." Which is why Rhimes doesn't call including people of color in her stories "diversity" at all — she calls it "normalizing." Like TV and film, we need and deserve runways that look like real life. (TFS)

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