Despite the many articles written about the lack of diversity on the runway and even protests calling for a change, New York Fashion Week is still overwhelmingly white. Jezebel reports:

This season, 151 New York designers’ shows were covered by Style.com. Those shows presented 4479 individual women’s wear “looks” to buyers and press, representing 4479 opportunities for a model to walk the runway or pose in a presentation. 3706 of those looks, or 82.7%, were this season shown on white models. Asian models nabbed 409, or 9.1% of all the runway looks. Black models were hired for 270, or 6%. Non-white Latina models had 90 looks, or 2%. Models of other races wore 7, or 0.2% of all looks. […]

Additionally,9% of all NYFW shows had all-white casts up from 6% last season. The article continues:

Designers that had more racial diversity included 3.1 Phillip Lim, Anna Sui, Badgley Mischka, Costello Tagliapietra, Diane von Furstenberg, J. Crew, Jason Wu, Jeremy Scott, Jonathan Simkhai, Mara Hoffman, Naeem Khan, Nicole Miller, Rebecca Taylor, Suno, Tracy Reese, Yeohlee, and Zac Posen.

As a fashion editor for publications that target an African-American demographic, I’m tasked with taking photographs of black models as they hit the catwalk. It’s disheartening to sit at fashion show after fashion show without having to lift my camera a single time as no models of color walk down the runway. Likewise, when a designer employs even two black models, I’m overwhelmingly pleased and grateful almost as if they did us a favor since it’s such a rarity.

The lack of diversity is indeed alarming and it’s a wonder that it persists despite the backlash and negative attention it incites. My theory on why it’s so easy for designers to cast an all-white show is simply because they can. Diversity is optional to them, primarily because they can still sell garments and gain revenue (which is the bottom line) without representing varied ethnicities in their show.

What are your thoughts, Clutchettes? What will it take for designers to cast models of color in their shows?

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  • Skye

    Whooooooooo Cares about these basic fashion shows and whack magazines. These are not something black people go to see anyway. Like, this same topic about some magazine, fashion designer no one has heard of…

    • Hi Skye!

      Actually, there are MANY people who care about these shows..including “black people”, Skye. And, most certainly, “black people” DO attend fashion shows, as evidenced by the attendance at the fashion shows we produce several times a year at Illusion Model Management in Houston, TX (http://im2models.com). It’s just a shame that models of color continue to be severely underrepresented in the modeling business. And, although many have tried to label our company a “black modeling agency”, we clearly state on our website that we work with models of ALL ethnicities. However, we will ALWAYS make it our mission to provide models of color with the same modeling opportunities their white counterparts have…even if we have to create the opportunities ourselves.

  • WhatIThink

    So I guess this is what you get in a post racial America…. And it will get even better when you get to a post Obama America…… no longer will you be just a token, you will just be ignored out right.

    You can only ignore the obvious for so long before the inevitable takes place….

  • KitKat

    Slightly off topic, but this a blog I visit when I need a fashion fix, and want to see people of color.

  • Fashion goes with beauty. So when Black women are not present or under-represented in those shows, young Black girls and Black women start questioning their beauty.

    One time, a good friend of mine ask the manager of a big fashion store why so few of his models were Black? He simply answered: “Who cares, your people are still going to buy from here”.

    I think we don’t realize the economic power we have.

    Our diversity at work!

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