The long and deep-rooted debate over the lack of model diversity is just as present in society now as it was half a century ago. There is no question that the industry norms have drastically developed since the mid-twentieth century, with all sizes and races gracing the floors of the largest catwalks, yet it is also apparent that slight progress alone is not enough.
Though the debate sparks an incredible amount of outrage, designers continue to cast mainly thin, white models in their shows and campaigns. Designers and casting agents have attempted to ease the scandal by using handfuls of ethnic models in their shows, but as the recent New York fashion week exemplifies, a staggering 80% of the nearly 5,000 looks were modeled by white women.
This past month former modeling agency owner, Bethann Hardison, sent out letters of dismay to fashion associations all over the world – including the CFDA – stating her concerns.
“Eyes are on an industry that season after season watches fashion design houses consistently use one or no models of colour. No matter the intention, the result is racism. Not accepting another based on the colour of their skin is clearly beyond “aesthetic” when it is consistent with the designer’s brand. Whether it’s the decision of the designer, stylist or casting director, that decision to use basically all white models, reveals a trait that is unbecoming to modern society. It can no longer be accepted, nor confused by the use of the Asian model.”
Discussions about the issue of diversity in the modeling industry continues to intensify each season as more and more people become aware of the offenders. Nevertheless, the future is unpredictable and significant impacts on the industry cannot be made with conversation alone.
For more information on diversity issues in the fashion industry, visit balancediversity.
Niasha Drydgen, JCI Fashion Student