Gypsy Sport by Christine Hahn for Milk
After studying 143 major shows and numbering 3,727 runway appearances during NYFW this month, The Fashion Spot has documented a subtle increase in diversity compared to previous seasons. This may sound like exciting news until you get into the nitty gritty of what an “increase in diversity” means for New York fashion in 2015 (Hint: It’s pretty fucking underwhelming).
In total, models of color were represented 28.4 percent of the time, which was a slight increase from 24.4 percent for fall 2015 and 20.9 percent for spring 2015. We surely hope the industry isn’t applauding itself for this hardly generous boost.
“This season, black models made up 10.7 percent of the runways, followed by Asian models at 8.7 percent and Latina models at 4.2 percent,” TFS reports. “Black models also saw the largest amount of growth. For fall 2015, runway appearances topped at 8.8 percent; for spring 2015, that number was even lower, totaling 8.3 percent.”
Several designers gravely contributed to the whitewashing of NYFW, from Erin Fetherston, who exclusively booked white models (0 percent diverse), to Pamella Roland, who only hired one model of color in her total lineup of 16 (6.26 percent diverse). Bridal designer Monique Lhuillier was a culprit, as well, including only one Asian model alongside 21 white models (4.6 percent diverse). Judging by Lhuillier’s skewed representation this season, she seems to believe only white people get married—she’s wrong.
The 71.6 percent white runways this season could’ve been worse if it wasn’t for names like Chromat, whose presentation featured 14 models of color out of 20 (70 percent diverse), and Gypsy Sport, who’s made it a standard to cast everyday, racially diverse models from the streets of NY each season.
TFS closes its depressing report writing, “At the end of the day, slow progress is still progress.” From our (incredibly critical, but highly realistic) perspective, if fashion prides itself on being a fast-paced, forward-thinking industry, “slow progress” is inexcusable, especially in terms of casting.