With all the cool (and kooky) designs that come down the catwalk during Fashion Week, it’s important also to remember that the industry as a whole has inherent issues that go far beyond trends. Recently, stars like Emma Watson have taken the industry to task on their lack of diversity. And it’s not just Hermione that thinks this — we have actual statistics to back it up, and they’re kind of upsetting.
A blog called The Fashion Spot, recently notorious for inciting a heated Twitter conversation with Amy Schumer, recently released their Fall 2015 diversity report, which analyzed the kinds of models used in print ad campaigns. Surprise — there was a major lack of diversity.
The report found that 87% of models in print campaigns were white. Asian models are the second most booked at 6.2% and Latinas make up a teeny 1% of the models seen in print. According the report, the last time the behemoth Yves Saint Laurent had a woman of color in its ads was 2008. 2008? Katy Perry was just making it big then. Myspace was still a thing! We’ve changed so much since then… why hasn’t the fashion industry?
This report also shows that plus-sized models only showed up about 11 times in all ads for fall, translating to a paltry 1.5% of models. These models were mostly featured in ads to promote big box brands like Target, meaning that while there is some headway with brands that cater to the “everywoman,” there’s still a lack of them in high fashion. The report mentions that even though there are major fashion giants that have plus sized lines, like Calvin Klein, Michael Khors and Ralph Lauren, none of them hired plus-sized models for their campaigns, which is a bummer because there are some pretty fierce plus sized models out there (um hi, Tess Holliday).
Trans models were also underrepresented. Only about three of the models in these campaigns were trans, and of those models, ALL were white. Featuring trans models at all is a step in the right direction, but the fact that they’re still not women of color proves that the road to change is gonna be a slow one.
This report is grim, but here’s the positive to take away from it: Changes are being made and some big brands are trying really hard for diversity in their ads (check out Hari Nef, a trans model who rocked H&M’s ads). Also, this report shows that a large number of older models were seen in campaigns this year, which is refreshing.
Don’t get bogged down by this report — take action! Write to designers you like and tell them what you think about the diversity you’ve seen from them, and maybe even include a list of specific models you think would be perfect for their brand. Basically the bottom line is to keep a critical eye on fashion and do your best to consume media that supports and empowers a diverse range of women.
What kind of models would you like to see rock the ads? Tell us in the comments!
(h/t The Fashion Spot photos courtesy of @tessholiday, Kate Spade and YSL)