After decades of exclusivity, the fashion industry is finally beginning to put more focus on diversity. We’ve recently seen more women of color on the runway, far more body positivity and trans visibility from brands like Hood By Air and Gypsy Sport. Before NYFW last month, the CFDA even sent out “diversity tips” to urge designers to be racially inclusive in all their shows and coming campaigns, but fashion still has a long way to go, with brands like Balenciaga and The Row sending white girl after white down their runways.
Now that Fashion Month has come to a close, The Fashion Spot has released its biannual diversity report which measures racial, age and body diversity over 300 shows across New York, Paris, London and Milan. In many ways, the results were not at all surprising: New York had the highest racial and body diversity, while out of all the European shows, not one plus-size model was included. Age diversity increased this year, with a few guest appearances by models over 50, including icon Lauren Hutton walking at Bottega Venetta, and trans visibility was at an all-time high, with 10 trans models dominating runways.
The Row S/S 17
Racial diversity, however, was a bit more complicated. All of the locales showed an increase, but growth in New York was small enough to break its larger pattern of change over the last few seasons. And despite warnings from the CFDA, some designers still chose to ignore equal representation—The Row came in last place, with a disgraceful zero percent diversity.
On the other hand, Kanye West was ranked the most diverse, sending 97 percent models of color down the runway at his now infamous Yeezy Season 4 presentation. While admirable, the Yeezy casting was problematic and highly exclusive in itself, calling strictly for multiracial women in a move that one protestor compared to Hitler’s obsession with eugenics. This type of diversity feels shallow, especially when the point is to include more types of women—not divide them further.
Overall, the data suggests a brighter future for the fashion industry. Brands like Chromat hit all the marks—age, body and racial diversity, breaking down barriers that help redefine beauty standards. If the industry continues to follow suit, maybe by next year, diversity reminders will no longer be needed—and The Row will be out of business.