Though several designers boasted increased diversity on the runway this past fashion month, the longevity of their efforts remain to be seen.
A report from The Fashion Spot published on Friday highlights telling results of how far the industry still has to go. The study — which analyzed 207 print campaigns for spring 2017, comprised of 444 models — found that 24.5 percent of models were non-white, a slight increase of 1.2 percent since last spring’s campaigns. However, this is compared to the 27.9 percent of non-white models that walked in runway shows in February, pointing to the industry’s struggle to maintain diversity and build upon past advancements.
“Marginalized people make marginalized strides towards equality and equity because the power structures that are in place are hard to break down,” said Austin Null, founder of Divergent Media, an agency focused on increasing diversity in influencer marketing. “I’m a ‘glass half-full’ kind of guy, so I love to hear that there are some positive gains being made, but we need more people, organizations and institutions with power and privilege to empower those who are marginalized.”
Courtesy of The Fashion Spot
Jennifer Davidson, editor-in-chief of The Fashion Spot, said part of the reason for the lowered percentages is that runway shows use significantly more models than print campaigns, which leaves less room for brands to be inclusive. “There are fewer opportunities to make diverse casting decisions and many brands opt for white, young, thin models.”
Courtesy of The Fashion Spot
Despite slightly regressive findings, there were five transgender models cast for campaigns this season, which Davidson said was “somewhat promising,” considering the small number of transgender models overall. She added that, to date, 2016 and 2017 have had the highest rate of visibility for trans men and women in fashion, as well as beauty and entertainment.
The report also unearthed the continued lack of representation for both plus-size women and models over age 50, despite buzz garnered for the latter group when 70-year-old actress and model Lauren Hutton was announced as a face of Calvin Klein’s latest underwear campaign. Hutton was one of only two older models cast in the campaigns examined by The Fashion Spot, and plus-size women were only featured 10 times, representing just 2.3 percent of models featured.
Alexander Wang and Stella McCartney — as well as fast fashion brands Urban Outfitters and Zara — were noted as the most inclusive brands, while Alberta Ferretti, Giorgio Armani and Céline were the least diverse. Each brand featured five women in their ads, all of which were white.
“I would encourage brands to make more of an effort to speak to their full range of customers,” Davidson said. “Ignoring their plus-size and older customers, who have a lot of buying power, is bad business.”