We often discuss and analyze the crisis of racism in fashion but it’s infinitely harder to arrive at solutions that can have a significant and lasting impact on the industry. One way to combat white-washed runways is to produce our own shows: productions that speak to a multicultural audience and employ models and designers of various ethnic backgrounds. BET’s “Rip The Runway” aims to do just that. The 2013 edition of the popular show premiered on BET yesterday evening to rave reviews. Clutch was invited to speak with the producing agency behind “RTR,” Balan Inc., about their vision for “Rip The Runway” and diversity in fashion in general.

Q: What do you think black productions like “Rip The Runway” mean for the fashion world?

A: Although this show is a mix of fashion and music, it is still one of the largest black fashion shows that is syndicated nationally. We think it’s a great opportunity to expose black designers, models, and musicians, and bring their talents to the forefront, through national television exposure.

Q: How important was it to choose a diverse group of models and designers?

A: It’s extremely important. As far as racial diversity, we wanted to give minorities a chance to have better exposure. We wanted to give both established and up and coming designers [of color] national exposure by including them in the show.

Q: There were 7 different segments including Size Sexy, Red Carpet and more. How did you visualize the transitions for each look?

A: We wanted to capture all the types of lifestyles, and activities, that one would encounter. Everything from going on vacation to attending a red carpet event. [We] basically [took] an over all lifestyle approach.

Q: How important is it to acknowledge the trends in African-American culture off the runway when producing an all-black fashion production?

A: Its important because most of the viewers are African-American [so] bringing something the viewers can relate to is important, and we tried our best to do that.

Q: Seeing as how there are limited black runway shows being televised, what do you hope to achieve when the show airs?

A: We hope to bring awareness about how important fashion is to black culture. Fashion and looking good is important in our community and we show that in “Rip The Runway.” We hope to give higher visibility to minority models, designers and stylists. Since there isn’t a ton of diversity during Fashion Week, we hoped to make up for the lack of diversity with our production.

Balan, Inc. worked beside BET Networks and industry legend Bethann Hardison to cast a show of beautiful, talented models and from Chasity Saunders to Bria Murphy, we were impressed with the talent. It was also great to see designers of colors flaunt their innovative and over-the-top creations on a national stage.

What did you think of BET’s Rip The Runway, Clutchettes?

Catch the encore tonight on BET at 8P/7C.

-Reporting by Nikki B.

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  • It would have made more of an impact if it was shown during NYFW by showing the collections of those designers that have already established themselves but don’t have the funds to show at Lincoln Center. The only way to speak directly to the racist fashion designers is to speak with your dollars and that way they will truly listen since they claim to act as if they don’t have a clue who their customers are.

  • I watched it. What I liked about this year was that they used a LOT of dark-skinned models.

  • RenJennM

    How come when BET does OUR version of something, it almost always seems to be the ‘knock off version’? “Rip The Runway” is not up to par with authentic high-fashion runway shows.

    I watch “Rip The Runway” every year HOPING that I’ll finally see a dope show. Pretty much every time, I’m disappointed. The production is always bright and flashy, which excites the eye, but distracts from the clothes. The fashion is not impressive, the styling is amateur, and the models are… bleh. I mean, no really… where do they find these models?! Who are they? Out of all the years of “Rip The Runway” combined, I must’ve seen maybe 8 or so models with names in the industry. If you cast a newbie, cast a girl who can WALK, who is drop-dead gorgeous, and who is underrated and should be known. Don’t cast models who look like they’re somebody’s ‘tall, pretty cousin’. We’re already going through this whole “white washing” in the modeling industry, so why not use 3-5 top working models of color each year? They’re already known, trained, professional, and looking for work. Plus, it’d take “Rip The Runway” to a respectable, high-fashion level.

    If we’re going to do something for us, let’s do it right, and stop settling for the less than. And like someone else said, “Rip The Runway” should have been done during New York Fashion Week. But of course, that’d be too much work, wouldn’t it? Even though Puffy did a 100% Black male model Sean John show at NYFW a couple years ago. Hmmm…

    C’mon, BET… step it up. It can be done.