Mercedes Benz Fashion Week is in full swing in New York City, and amid the daring designs, people are noticing a distinct lack of color on the runways. Although many are aware of the lack of black and brown models walking the catwalk, behind the scenes black designers are also just as rare.

This year, only two African American designers, b. michael and Tracy Reese, are showcasing their looks on the runway, which have led many to wonder–where are the black designers?

One reason many African American designers are left of one of fashion’s most important events is cost.

“Well, fashion week is a multi-million dollar proposition,” Dr. Valerie Steele told theGrio. “[E]ven for a designer to put on a small show can cost a hundred thousand dollars. So you have an enormous investment on the part of designers.”

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By 2015, African-American buying power set to surpass $1 trillion dollars annually, so could people-power influence the runways?

Brandice Henderson, founder and CEO of Harlem’s Fashion Row, a non-profit organization that works to get more black designers on the runway, thinks so.

Henderson told theGrio: “If our community could just rally behind this, I believe it could change overnight. Who doesn’t want to wear what Rihanna is wearing? One thing is that the fashion industry is just super-competitive. Regardless of your race, it’s just a very competitive industry and in order to get in you have to have really great contacts and resources.”

What do you think? Can black consumers help more black designers make it to the big show? 

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