Fashion / Future Research / In the News

IN THE NEWS | New York Fashion Week Gets Diverse With Models

Prabal Gurung Spring/Summer 2013

New York Fashion Week for the Spring/Summer 2013 season just finished and according to Jezebel, it was the most racially diverse season ever when counting the models that were used.

“For the second time ever (and the second season in a row), white models actually comprised just less than 80% of the total model pool. Contrast that with the 87% of all runway spots that were given to white models in Fall-Winter 2008, when we began keeping track of models and race at NYFW.”

“This season, 143 designers presented some 4708 individual women’s wear “looks” to buyers and press during the eight days of fashion week. 3736 of those looks, or 79.4%, were given to white models. Again this season, the second largest ethnic group on the runway at fashion week was Asians — Asian models got 476, or 10.1% of all the runway looks. Black models nabbed 383, or 8.1%. Non-white Latina models had 88 looks, or 1.9%. And models of other races wore 25, or 0.5% of all looks.”

While these numbers are encouraging, there is undeniably a long way to go. Racial diversity (or lack thereof) in the modeling industry has been something that I become increasingly interested in. I have tried a few times to become a model myself.  One modeling agent told me that I don’t have “the right look” and another said I need to lose weight. I was even told by another agent that they “already have two other black models so we [the model agency] couldn’t sign another one.”

I think it would be worthwhile to examine racial diversity in the Canadian modeling industry especially since Canada prides itself on being so multicultural.  I would be surprised if there has been any research on racial diversity at any of the fashion weeks held across Canada.

One of my favourite designers Prabal Gurung summed exactly how I feel about this issue in the Wall Street Journal:

“Prabal Gurung, another critically acclaimed young designer who showed his collection on a very diverse cast this season, talked a little about the rationale behind his casting to the Wall Street Journal. “It wasn’t deliberate, like ‘let’s look for Asian models,'” said the designer, who was himself born in Singapore and raised in Nepal. “But for me being a minority myself, I have always believed personally and professionally that there’s beauty in every race. I have a 6-year-old niece, and in a few years she will be aware of all this stuff and I want to make sure there are enough role models for her. Beauty is beauty.”

Perhaps this a future area of research. For now here are some of favourite looks from Prabal’s Spring/Summer show.

further reading

“New York Fashion Week by the Numbers: More Models of Colour are Working” by Jenna Sauers of Jezebel

Models of Color on Tumblr (One of favourite tumblrs. I’ll be discussing Tumblr as it relates to my MRP sometime soon.)

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