After every season of fashion, we (fashion followers/writers/bloggers) come to the realization that the majority of models who walked the runway were Caucasian. When asked about why fashion shows consist of mainly white models, designers replied with something along the lines of, “it’s not about the model’s skin colour, but their body, face, attitude and aesthetic of the designer.” Caucasian have a specific body type, while Black and Asian girls also have a specific body shape. In some cases, its better to have an Asian body shape because they’re flat and in a way, less sexy. Asian girls don’t have curves, so by putting an Asian who is flat in a runway show where the desire is for more curvy and beautiful girls is complete nonsense. Most designers do so because they want to please their Asian customers.
The people in the fashion industry don’t seem to recognize what they’re doing. They are being racist. Designers dress White models in Native-American headdresses to model lingerie and paint other White models black. The discrimination of a model’s skin colour isn’t uncommon. When speaking with agents, Black models, like Joan Smalls, are repeatedly told that there is only room for one model of colour in that specific runway showcase. Chanel Iman has been told that since there was already a black girl in a runway show they didn’t need her anymore. Other models, like Jourdan Dunn, have been told by makeup artists during fashion week that they didn’t want to work on her simply because she was black.
German fashion designer Philpp Plein is growing his brand by creating visually striking runway shows. Almost every look glittered and sparkled, whether it being a sequined romper, metallic moto jacket, or a Swarovski-trimmed dress. The real point of the article is the fact that all the models were black. This made headlines everywhere because it was made a timely statement as the industry tries to end runway racism. Philpp said the choice to use all black models was in line with the overall statement of his brand. The message was about breaking barriers and the rules. It was what people were not expecting. The designer wanted to force people to get used to a future where old prejudices have absolutely no place. When people attend fashion shows, they’re expecting to see a group of White girls in shoes they can’t walk in. What this designer did was showcase a group of beautiful Black girls in flats. To add to that, Philipp Plein featured Iggy Azalea, a white rapper in the Black dominated Hip Hop world. It could seem like the designer was trying to get attention for his brand, but he has made a valid point. His rule-breaking ways will most likely to get him further into the fashion industry than his clothes every could.
The racial diversity in the current fashion industry is an ethical issue mainly because it’s hard to believe that today, 2013, we’re still struggling with racism. This is surprising considering the fact that our most notable supermodels are women of colour. Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, and Iman no longer walk in runway shows. Since they left the modeling industry, racially diverse models are rare when it comes to the catwalk. High-end fashion designers only use few models of colour in their showcases or none at all. Fall/Winter 2012 was the most diverse New York fashion Week of all time. This may be great to hear, but when you have a look at the percentages, models of colour were still underrepresented.
I love that this one designer, Philipp Plein, had a runway showcase with only Black models. He made a statement that made headlines everywhere. Philipp Plein, 3.1 Phillip Lim, J. Crew, Jason Wu, and L.A.M.B use models of colour and give hope that the rest of the fashion industry will follow their lead.