More Diversity of Size, Color, Gender, and Age in Fashion?

Is the fashion industry creeping toward more diversity? Industry analysts at theFashionSpot have been crunching numbers on this for three years now. And following the Fall 2017 season, they say the answer is definitely yes.

Diversity in Fashion by the Numbers

In their report, they found the greatest progress in racial diversity of runway models. They looked at 7,035 model castings for 241 shows in New York, London, Paris, and Milan. They’ve seen a steady increase in racial diversity across all for cities for six sessions. For the latest season, 28% of all models were women of color.

New York shows have the greatest diversity and also the broadest definition of of diversity. Plus, transgender, and older models were all visible. Still, the progress is slow and uneven.

Plus-size models are only 0.43% of all castings. They are mostly marginalized in Europe. Fall 2017 is the first season in Milan where any plus-size model appeared. And even in New York, body diversity flourishes in relatively few shows.

Images Matter

You might be thinking, who cares? And the answer is that we all should.

Fashion is a platform for aspiration. These shows are a small but influential piece of fashion that sends ripples through our culture. Images persuade more people than words.

Academics can talk all they want about bias, stigma, and discrimination. But so long as only a very limited slice of body images are modeled in fashion, weight bias will persist. In truth, changes in culture and fashion will move together, as President Ivan Bart of IMG Models explains:

These days we’re pushing to include in our roster people of all ages, races, sizes, body types and genders. We’re evolving as a society, and fashion, too, has to evolve.

Click here for more from theFashionSpot and here for more from the New York Times.

Fashion, photograph © Mac McCreery / flickr

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March 20, 2017