11 October 2015

Why isn’t the fashion industry more diverse?

Insight & Analysis

Why isn’t the fashion industry more diverse?

At fashion shows staged in the world’s four major fashion capitals, the vast majority of models walking the runway are white. 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. Magazine covers and advertising campaigns reflect a similar pattern. 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 10 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?

Bethann Hardison Founder, the Diversity Coalition

Op-Ed | Agencies Are Holding Back Models of Colour

Designers want to work with a diverse range of models, but some modelling agencies are making it tough, says Bethann Hardison.

Reina Lewis Professor of Cultural Studies, London College of Fashion

Op-Ed | Fashion Reinforces Racial Hierarchies of Beauty

Narrow, historic definitions of beauty are holding back diversity in the fashion industry, argues Reina Lewis, professor of cultural studies at London College of Fashion.

Ben Barry Assistant Professor of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, School of Fashion, Ryerson University

Op-Ed | Diversity In Fashion Advertising Does Sell

Advertisers who assume consumers will only buy into images of white beauty are wrong, says Dr. Ben Barry of Ryerson University.

Jason Campbell

Op-Ed | Whites-Only Policy at Vetements and Balenciaga

For someone whose design work has been dubbed ‘revolutionary’ in fashion circles, Demna Gvasalia’s all-white casting is shockingly out of touch with today’s global reality, argues Jason Campbell.

What's your opinion?