Fashion Month is already off to a progressive start: For the first time in its 126-year history, a Black man photographed a Vogue cover, Elite Models just signed its first Black, transgender, differently-abled model, and brands like Madewell are finally expanding their size range to reflect the 67% of consumers who wear a size 12 or larger. But this sort of representation — specifically when it comes to plus and transgender models — hasn’t translated to mainstream fashion advertising.
In its bi-annual diversity report focusing on fall 2018 fashion campaigns, The Fashion Spot evaluated 192 ads and found that this season topped last fall as the most racially diverse ever: 34.5% featured models of color, a slight improvement over last year’s 34%. Bella and Gigi Hadid, who some consider to be ‘white-passing,’ booked the most campaigns. The website notes this is the third season where print ads were actually more diverse than runway shows.
Age was also a category that showed promising improvement. Forty-year-old Amber Valletta was the most in-demand model this season and appeared in seven print ads, tied with Rianne van Rompaey (who is 22). Models over the age of 50 were also incredibly visible this season, with 18 women featured in 11 campaigns, including those for Gucci, Proenza Schouler, Brandon Maxwell, and Saint Laurent.
Even though transgender and non-binary models were the least represented group for the third season, 1.1%, or six people, were featured in fall 2018 campaigns. (Four of the six spots went to Ariel Nicholson Murtagh and Teddy Quinlivan). This number stayed the same from last year, which isn’t ideal but is good for visibility.
Plus-size women, however, were only cast seven times (1.3%) — the lowest since 2015. Ashley Graham was the only plus model to be cast by a luxury brand (David Yurman), while Marquita Pring starred in Anthropologie’s fall campaign, Paloma Elsesser starred in 7 For All Mankind's, Tara Lynn in Gloria Vanderbilt's, and violinist Ezinma in The Gap's.
It’s worth noting both The Gap and Versace succeed when it came to diversity of all kinds — age, size, and race. But two brands does not an industry make. And if we ever want fashion to get to a place of true inclusion, it's time brands that chose to stick with straight, white, size zero models took a moment to think about the message they're sending to their customers.