OXFORDSHIRE, United Kingdom — Diversity in fashion was one of the most widely-discussed topics at VOICES, BoF's new annual gathering for big thinkers, and models Joan Smalls and Hari Nef both have first-hand experience of the industry's issues with discrimination.
Smalls, who is mixed-race, and Nef, who is transgender, were joined on stage by IMG Models president Ivan Bart, and, in a conversation with BoF editor-at-large Tim Blanks, urged the industry to rethink its limited perceptions of beauty.
“You should be reflective of the world you live in,” said Smalls. “I look at this crowd, beautiful faces from different backgrounds and that’s the world I see. So when I see a runway with all the same models that are just cloned, I’m like: ‘Is that your beauty? Is that your world?’ It’s very one-sided and bland. Brands have to be more open-minded when they choose their cast; they hold a responsibility to represent consumers.”
“There needs to be a greater awareness of who wears the clothes,” echoed Nef. “The fashion industry fetishises diversity,” she continued. “It’s like ‘diversity day’ — but that never means a blue chip campaign or a big contract.”