This Was The Most Diverse Fashion Month On Record — But Not By Much

Photo: Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
The Fashion Spot's seasonal rundown of runway diversity during Fashion Month came with some hopeful news — and some very apparent room for improvement.
Fall '17 saw more women of color cast in shows and presentations than ever before: 27.9% — up 2.5% from the previous season, according to the latest report. To arrive at these figures, The Fashion Spot looked at the castings for 241 events in New York, London, Milan, and Paris. It found that every city, save for New York, broke its own record for diversity: 28.4% of the models that walked in London were nonwhite, as were 25.9% and 23.8% of those in Paris and Milan, respectively. Not to say the American fashion capital didn't make any strides in terms of inclusivity this season: According the the latest Diversity Report, every single NYFW designer cast at least one model of color this season — a first for any of the cities. Plus, all of the fall '17 shows highlighted by the site for their diverse casting were in the Big Apple. (Gypsy Sport, named #1 in terms of diversity with 87% models of color, is pictured.)
The Fashion Spot tallies the model lineups of designers across Fashion Month cities provide a foundation (and some context) for how we talk about inclusivity in the industry. These are still relatively small increments, but the site noted that they represent pretty notable strides for cities notoriously lack diversity — especially considering the drama that unfolded after casting director James Scully accused a number of French labels of discriminating against models this season. Plus, it doesn't mean the work is done in terms of holding designers accountable: Even in 2017, brands like Junya Watanabe, Undercover, and Trussardi didn't cast a single model of color for fall — which, unfortunately, isn't a new trend.
There also wasn't much significant improvement in terms of body, gender, and age diversity this season. Overall, there were 30 plus-size model sightings on the fall '17 runways, The Fashion Spot reports. However, that still accounts for only 0.43% of all the castings for the season. Plus, most of these shows (26, to be exact) were concentrated in New York; two were in Milan at Dolce & Gabbana, and the remaining two were in Paris at H&M. Meanwhile, women over 50 made up 0.29% of the lineups across Fashion Month — which is still more than in past seasons (21 for fall, versus 13 for spring), and every city had at least two older models, according to The Fashion Spot. Additionally, transgender models were identified by the site as the most underrepresented category on the fall '17 runways, only making up 0.17% of castings. (That's 12 appearances total, all in New York, per The Fashion Spot.)
While some strides were made in the fall '17 season, The Fashion Spot's latest report makes some gaps in representation glaringly apparent. "We're still seeing tokenism and we're not yet seeing widespread acceptance of models across categories — models of various sizes, ages, races and gender identities," Sara Ziff, founder of The Model Alliance, told the site. So, the industry can take a (brief) moment to acknowledge the progress it's made — and then get right back to working towards even more progress.

More from Designers

R29 Original Series