Has New York Fashion Week Finally Gotten the Memo on Diversity? – New York Times

Labels including Tom Ford, Brandon Maxwell, Tome, Chromat, Helmut Lang, Marc Jacobs, Tracy Reese and Christian Siriano contributed to a rise in the share of nonwhite models in the shows, which hit 36.9 percent this season. But there were prominent outliers, as well, including the Row, where just three of the 30 models were nonwhite, and Victoria Beckham, where the number was five.

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Diversifying Fashion Week

Designer Tracy Reese’s show is among the most inclusive at New York Fashion Week. For several years, more than half of her models have been women of color.


By CAITLIN OCHS, KAITLYN MULLIN and NEETI UPADHYE on Publish Date September 16, 2017.


Photo by Mary Altaffer/Associated Press. Technology by Samsung..

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Of the 90 plus-size appearances, 56 were at Addition Elle and Torrid (showing at fashion week for the first time); both are companies that sell clothing above a size 10. Not far behind were Christian Siriano and Chromat, which between them had 21 appearances from plus-size models including Marquita Pring and Jocelyn Corona.

Teddy Quinlivan, who revealed last week that she has lived as a woman since she was 16, walked in 11 runway shows, boosting the number of appearances from transgender and nonbinary models to 31, a new high. Chromat contributed the highest share to the total: Six of its models were transgender or nonbinary.

Last season, six models over the age of 50 walked in New York Fashion Week, and this time was just a slight improvement, with 10. Coco Mitchell, Susan Cianciolo, Sophia Lamar and others hit the runway for Eckhaus Latta, Helmut Lang and Chromat.

“Diversity is really a part of the conversation, not just in fashion, but also in television, movies and any kind of media,” Ms. Davidson said. “Designers can see that there’s a real benefit to inclusion.” And the inverse is true as well. No diversity on your runway? “People aren’t going to tolerate it,” she said.

As models have become more fluent on social media, they have taken to speaking out against the dominance of white, straight-size models in the industry. The Model Alliance, for example, a labor-rights organization run by Sara Ziff, regularly takes a public stand on diversity in the workplace, while the Instagram account More Models of Color shares images of nonwhite models and calls out labels that lack diversity in castings.

Platforms like Instagram have also enabled models who are not signed by agencies to promote themselves. “They’re able to reach out directly to casting directors,” said Gilleon Smith, who has chosen models for Chromat, Ane Amour and Phelan. “That’s really how a lot of models come to me.” In 1999 or even in 2009, she said, “how were you even supposed to know who was casting that show?”

Ms. Davidson will analyze the shows in London, Milan and Paris and share reports from those cities as well, along with a final report from all the shows. “Europe lags behind, especially for plus-size women,” she said.

Ms. Smith wonders when it will expand to Milan and Paris and London. “Once you’re over there,” she said, “you’re going back to that one politically correct black girl that’s in the show.”

Stay tuned.


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