The need for more more models of color on the runway is an ongoing, often frustrating conversation, and one that’s been in full swing as we go a couple days deep into the spring 2016 Fashion Week shows. But what about this season’s crop of fashion ads? The results are pretty bleak: Only 15.5% of models cast in fall 2015 campaigns are not white, according to The Fashion Spot’s latest diversity report, which looked at the breakdowns of 460 fashion print ads. A couple of brands proved to be a welcome exceptions to the whitewashing: Roberto Cavalli, Kimora Lee Simmons, and Alexis Bittar all exclusively cast models of color for fall 2015 campaigns.
Cavalli chose Ciara to star in its most recent images (the label previously cast Nicki Minaj for its spring shoot), Alexis Bittar's latest ads starred Zoe Kravitz, and Kimora Lee Simmons featured an Asian model. Granted, most of these "models" of color are bona fide celebrities moonlighting as campaign stars. That's not quite as strong a message as choosing nonwhite professional models. The dearth of diversity on catwalks and in campaigns prompted the recent creation of an Instagram account, @moremodelsofcolor, if you needed a reminder that there's a lot of room for improvement in the industry.
On the flip side, Chloé and Saint Laurent yet again didn’t feature models of color in their fall ads—both are historically repeat offenders when it comes to overwhelmingly homogenous campaigns (Chloé hasn't had a nonwhite model in its ads since 2001, and Saint Laurent hasn't done so since 2008, according to the report). Additionally, Gucci, Burberry Prorsum, Moncler Gamme Rouge, Versace, and Valentino all featured four or more models in their fall campaigns, with not one being of color. This is especially surprising for Burberry, which featured Naomi Campbell and Jourdan Dunn in its spring 2015 ads. A few other labels that get honorable mentions for less-homogenous castings include Céline, which featured African-American model Karly Loyce (the brand has been scrutinized in the past for its notorious lack of diversity), as well as Sandro, which cast Argentinian model Mica Arganaraz. Lucky Brand Denim also featured one model of color for fall, and Sam Edelman cast part-Hawaiian blogger Rocky Barnes. How does this compare to seasons past? The overall breakdown of white versus nonwhite models in spring 2015's images is basically the same: Only 15.3% of models cast were not white. (For the optimists out there, that's a .2% bump from spring to fall 2015 campaigns.) That said, Prabal Gurung, Barneys New York, Puma, and Balmain had diverse castings (along with Burberry and Cavalli). The findings for spring and fall 2014 ads, collectively, found brands including H&M, DKNY, and Ann Taylor to have notably diverse model lineups (but not lineups that were exclusively composed of models of color), and brands such as Banana Republic and Express had a token nonwhite female model amid very white castings of female models. Will spring 2016’s campaigns prove more impressive in terms of progressive castings? It would be about time.