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New York Fashion Week Fall 2018 Lacked Much Advancement in Diversity

By Fejiro Onohwosa 05 March 2018   |   4:03 pm

In fashion, while diverse representation is far from where it should be, there’s no doubt that it is on the rise. The fashion industry took a major step forward towards inclusivity, both on the runway at New York Fashion Week and in print advertorials. This season, however, the industry’s evolution stalled.

Racial diversity only marginally improved 0.4 percent at NYFW for fall 2018, according to the Fashion Spot, which analyzed casting for 82 shows and found that models of colour accounted for merely 37.3 percent of models. While 0.4 percent is hardly progress, it is a leap from the first year the Fashion Spot began tracking diversity (in 2015) when it was just 20.9 percent non-white.

The representation of transgender models in the New York Fashion week saw a comparable increase. There were only two more transgender and non-binary models for fall 2018 than for spring 2018. A total of 33 transgender and non-binary models walked in this past season’s shows.

Gigi Hadid Kicked Off The New York Fashion Week With The Tom Ford Spring/Summer 2018 Collection. Photo credit: AFP

While that number is shockingly low compared to the 2,289 model appearances the Fashion Spot analyzed, the publication did note transgender representation at this past NYFW was monumental in another way. More than ever, mainstream brands casted transgender models including Derek Lam, Tory Burch, Coach 1941, Alexander Wang, Jeremy Scott, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera and Marc Jacobs, who tapped Hunter Schafer, Massima Lei, Ariel Murtagh and Dara Allen.

We also observed marginal improvement in racial and transgender diversity while size and age inclusivity actually plummeted. Fall 2018 NYFW saw only 26 plus-size models in comparison to Spring 2018’s 34 — and one label, Chromat, which has continually raised the bar on inclusive casting, was responsible for 9 of those hires.

They were the ones to model this season’s hottest accessory. On the other hand, within the relatively small number of plus-size models at NYFW, there was substantial diversity. Out of all the curvy models, 19 were people of color and 7 were white. Meanwhile, age-wise, there were only 9 models over 50, which was down from last year’s 10.