When Kanye West showcased his latest designs in Paris this week there was no doubt that expectations were high, but for some, what wasn’t expected was the perceived lack of African American models in the show. While many of us didn’t bat an eye (I mean the point of the show was the designs, not the models right?) some people took offense to Kanye’s lack of runway diversity.

To be fair, Kanye isn’t alone. Many African American designers opt to use more white models to showcase their clothing during fashion shows and in advertising. Of course it can be said that there are more white models available than black ones, but while the numbers may be disproportionate, there are certainly enough black and other models of color around to fill a show. It’s no secret that when it comes to beauty in this country white is right and women of color, while somewhat celebrated, are still looked down on for having figures too curvaceous for runway sample sizes. Designers don’t just design for fun, they design for profit, and if the “standard” of beauty in fashion is a size 0 model with no hips, booty and only a smidge of boobs, well that cuts many colored girls off at the pass, so designers (black, white or other) are left to choose from white models in order to sell their clothing. Then that leaves us wondering why would black designers not want to go against the grain?

These designers know better than anyone that black is beautiful, so why not buck the system and throw some sisters in that b*#ch? Black models can sell clothing just as well if not better than their white counterparts so why aren’t more black designers using them in their shows and advertising. Why are they buying into and promoting the stereotype that black can’t sell? Considering that it will be mostly black women running to the stores to support one of our own, maybe using more black models in their shows is the least black designers can do.

Do you think it’s wrong for black designers to use mostly white models? Or are people being too sensitive?

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  • Bronze

    Not int he beginning. 1st he needs to establish himself as a designer. He has a lot to prove. Is he a fly-by-nite celeb and/or if he survives that will he be in one day and out the next.

    If he survives all of that I’d say mix it up.

  • alyson

    it’s not wrong…but this sentence sums it up best:

    “…why not buck the system and throw some sisters in that b*#ch?” lol

  • Out of 20 looks Kanye used at least three models of African descent and at least two of Asian descent, so was that not enough to satisfy you? We all know of several designers who didn’t use at least one model of African descent and folks will still support these same designers in droves regardless if they use a model of African descent or not.

    The best way to show displeasure is to talk with your money by not spending your dollars with brands who don’t see you as a customer. Is It Wrong For Caucasian or Asian Designers To Use Only Asian Or Caucasian Models??

    Next up, it will be that his collection is too high for black folks to buy and he needs to lower them if he wants their support. There are far more important things to worry about than designer clothes.

    • Galaxy

      I think all the models should have been black! So for me no, it was not enough. I have my preferences and I do not think starved white models would fit the bill. Who sets the standards for runway showcase or beauty, white designers and their shadows? Black designers have to figure who their target audience is and cater to them. Yes, white supremacists made sure black people would not be able to afford such overpriced clothes; most of the time they aren’t worth their offer to begin with. Hilfiger stated he didn’t make clothes for black people is it wrong for him to want to dress his people, no, I don’t think so and its not wrong for us to dress ours! Black people need to stop trying to fit in with white people cause to them just like Kanye said if you’re in a “Benz you still a nigga”, to them.

      I was looking to support black designers and it bothered me and I searched to see if this was even a topic. It is very offensive to me because we are so used to letting “them” set the bar when we are the one and only first true trend setters that’s why they hate us so much and few of the white race will admit.

      Shahrazad Ali said they don’t keep us out because we cant perform, they keep us out because we’re the Very Best!


    • Galaxy

      …in addition it should not be downplayed by nomenclature “designer clothes” is something important, everyone wears clothes right… its an industry. As black people WE SHOULD WORRY about how we are seen and how we run our businesses and what the audience thinks because I can afford these clothes and I’m not buying from a black designer like that I’d rather support the one who has “more” black pride and is not afraid to show it.

  • minna k.

    “…and if the “standard” of beauty in fashion is a size 0 model with no hips, booty and only a smidge of boobs, well that cuts many colored girls off at the pass, so designers (black, white or other) are left to choose from white models in order to sell their clothing. ”

    No, no, no. That is not what it is about. Its about wanting to be embraced by the “mainstream” designer fashion house market, and not the ” urban” chitlin’ circuit. Rap star with “clothing line”, and black female faces equals Apple Bottom, and i guess he wants to be “better” than that. Kanye wants to be Celine. White faces make the clothes look more “high fashion” and not “street”.

    Isn’t that horrible?

    Also, There are skinny black women. There is no one type of CORRECT black female figure. I’m tired of reading about our collective over ample ass.

  • larry

    I’m a photographer here in LA, and I cover fashion and red carpet events. He should not have tried harder to book a more diverse pool of models for his show. Just because he has mostly white models it wont distract from the collection itself…construction..vision…point of view. I don’t know who he has working for him but they need to re-think their strategy…white folks are not just looking for white faces on he runway…the are looking for content.

    We as people of color need to stop throwing each other under the bus because our “looks” may not fit some standard of beauty…self-hatred is a mutha.