How Diverse Were The Spring 2017 Runways?

Fashions shows are (very) slowly, but surely, becoming more varied in terms of model casting with each subsequent season, as evidenced by TheFashionSpot's latest Diversity Report. The site looked at 299 shows, which included nearly 9,000 model appearances, and crunched the numbers in a couple of categories: race, plus-size versus straight-size, gender orientation (specifically tallying transgender models), and age. Across all four fashion weeks — New York, London, Milan, and Paris — 25.4% of all models cast were women of color. That portion of non-white models breaks down to 10.33% Black, 7% Asian, 3.36% Latina, .4% Middle Eastern, and 4.27% defined as "other." All of those categories were slightly higher than in the previous season, except for casting stats for Asian models, which dropped less than half a percentage point.
Photo: Nina Westervelt/Brandon Maxwell.
Over a quarter of castings being non-white is a slight improvement on the fall 2016 shows, which featured 24.75% minority castings according to the site's last report. The jump was a bit more substantial from the previous two seasons: the spring 2016 shows featured 22.4% models of color, following 20% non-white castings on the fall 2015 catwalks. New York bested the rest of the world's fashion capitals in terms of racial diversity: 30.3% of NFYW castings were models of color. However, this is 1.6% less than the makeup of the previous seasons. Milan was, yet again, the most whitewashed of fashion weeks this time around, with just 20.9% non-white castings. Paris and London fell somewhere between NYFW and MFW's counts. Season-wide, the most diverse castings were on the Ashish catwalk at LFW, followed by Kanye West's Yeezy show at NYFW. Other designers that scored the highest for racial diversity were all, interestingly, on the New York calendar: Kimora Lee Simmons, Brandon Maxwell (pictured above), Chromat, and Rebecca Minkoff. As for the least-diverse runways? Junya Watanabe, The Row, Anrealage, Daniela Gregis, and Mila Schön all showed their spring 2017 collections on completely white model rosters. Age-wise, there was a subtly wider range of more mature castings, with 13 women aged 50 or older this time around, up from 11 the previous season. Transgender castings rose ever so slightly, too, from eight castings in the fall 2016 shows to 10 for spring 2017, eight of which were at NYFW, one at PFW, and one at MFW. As for size inclusivity, the figures across cities aren't encouraging, to put it lightly. Just .18% of castings in the entire recent season were plus-size models; NYFW had the most body diversity, but that amounted to a mere 16 appearances of plus-size models (only .54% of all New York castings). Granted, the stats certainly aren't representative of actual racial breakdowns of the global population (or the demographics of any of the cities that host Fashion Week). But progress is progress. While the figures are still very sparse in terms of age and gender orientation, it's promising that the numbers of non-white models continue to climb, albeit gradually. Hopefully, we'll see even more dramatic change at all four major catwalk circuits come fall 2017.

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