Why isn’t the fashion industry more diverse?

date:11.10.2015 by:BoF,

Why is diversity lacking in modelling?

on October 11th, 2015, by Business of Fashion, photo via TrueCrowd.com, via BOF


At the Autumn/Winter 2015 shows staged across the world’s four major fashion capitals, 80 percent of the models that walked the runway were white. This was an improvement over the Spring/Summer 2015 season, but only by 3 percentage points. There are, of course, designers like Riccardo Tisci and Tom Ford, who use a diverse range of models in their shows. But they are the exception to the rule. Figures on magazine covers and advertising campaigns paint a similar picture. In 2014, of the 611 covers published by the fashion industry’s 44 biggest magazines, only 18 percent featured non-white models, while 90 percent of the models who appeared in fashion advertising campaigns were white.

By contrast, the consumers who purchase luxury fashion are more diverse than ever. Since 2007, Asia-Pacific’s share of the global luxury goods market has grown by ten percentage points and today the fastest growing luxury markets in the world are the Middle East and Africa. So why don’t fashion communications, from shows to campaigns, reflect this? Is this due to the aesthetic ideals of designers and other creatives, whose “vision” the industry follows? Is the lack of diversity at fashion’s front end linked to its lack of diversity in the boardroom, where few non-whites hold top positions? Or does the fashion industry simply reflect the racial bias embedded in the aspirations of consumer society at large? Why isn’t the fashion industry more diverse? And what should be done about it?

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