The Guardian reports that there is a push to require Brazilian designers to cast Black models to make up no less than twenty percent of their featured faces in upcoming shows. While Euro-Brazilian models such as Gisele Bündchen have found global acclaim, Afro-Brazilians only made up 28 of the 1,128 models featured in 2008’s Sao Paulo Fashion Week. Blacks make up over fifty percent of the country’s population.
This year’s organizers agreed to a 10 percent minimum, but reports by Brazilian media have found that a number of the designers who participated chose to ignore the quota. The Guardian quotes Brazilian fashion editor Vivian Whiteman as stating that bookers continue to snub Black models because “research showed their clients still reject the combination of black [models] and luxury clothing”.
One of the country’s most famous designers claims that he wanted an all-Black lineup for his summer collection, but that he could not find enough top models to fill the slots. ” I asked everyone for help but there were just not enough experienced professionals,” said Oskar Metsavaht, who is the creative director for the line Osklen, which debuted a summer line that was inspired by Brasil’s African heritage.
Protests of this year’s event were led by Frie Davi Santos of Educafro Brazil, who stated “We cannot accept the world of fashion insisting on being a stronghold for the Eurocentric”. She is asking for organizers to agree to a higher quota and to hold participants to it. Santos charges that an event that “presents a majority of people with typically European characteristics does not represent the beauty and wealth of Brazilian ethnicity. Brazil is a country that still insists on emphasizing its European side and discriminating against its beautiful indigenous and Afro-Brazilian populations. We do not want catwalks that look like catwalks in Switzerland or England.”