Anecdotal evidence suggests that there is a one black model quota within the fashion industry. Its been said that once this quota has been reached, black models are turned away from shows, irrespective of their high caliber qualifications.

In an interview with The Times Magazine, Chanel Iman recounted instances where she was  excused from participating in several top notch designer shows because according to the show organizers, “We already found one black girl. We don’t need you anymore.” Furthermore, Alexa Curtis of The Huffington Post, has also reported that there are some designers who cast one or two black models in their show only to avoid negative press.

At an after party for his Fall 2014 show, Prabal Gurung was asked by the New York Magazine if he thinks runway diversity is improving. He replied,

“I always say, cute is cute. Whether you’re White, Asian, Black – if you’re cute you’re cute. I see no discrimination and I’ve never been like that. When I use a black model it’s not because I want to make a statement. It’s because I think they’re beautiful.”

During her recent visit to San Francisco for the Macy’s annual Black History Month event, which focused on the work of African American styles, Beverly Johnson stated that “there are no models of color on the runway, OK, maybe there’s one.” She further stated that the nonexistence of black models on the runway is disrespectful especially when African Americans contribute to the bottom line of these designers and the entire industry.

Later last year, supermodels Naomi Campbell and Iman launched a campaign spearheaded by former model agent Bethann Hardison to raise awareness of racism in the industry. They told CNN that the lack of racial diversity in the fashion industry is a serious issue that needs to be addressed. They wrote letters to major fashion councils in New York, London, Milan and Paris calling for an end to racism. They called out fashion houses like Marc Jacobs, Victoria Beckham, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan and Rodarte who “consistently use one or no models of color” in their runways. They described the designers’ decisions as racism.

We think celebrities like Beyonce and Rihanna should stop patronizing designers that do not represent their image and perhaps join in on the runway diversity awareness campaign initiated by Campbell and Iman. Two years ago Victoria Beckham posted an image on Facebook, featuring Beyonce in one of her designs. If she loves Beyonce, a black woman wearing her designs, why doesn’t she cast more models of the same race or color on her runways?

 

Do you think improvements were made to diversity at the catwalk shows held during the 2014 Fall/Winter New York Fashion Week? Please share your thoughts with us via the comment section below or tweet me @LindaAmaechi