There's a Serious Lack of Diversity in Fashion Campaigns


lacoste-spring-2014-new-york-fashion-week-IMG-runway When was the last time you saw someone who was not white as the central feature of a fashion advertising campaign? I honestly can’t recall the last one I saw, and that’s a problem. Fashion ad campaigns have long determined the success of a brand, as they are designed for the sole purpose of selling clothes to the public. Though fashion is diverse in terms of trends, many campaigns still tend to lack diversity with the models they feature. While many fashion powerhouses have been making a conscious effort in recent years to incorporate different races into their campaigns, there is still much progress that needs to be made.

Global fashion advertising campaigns play an influential role in the fashion industry because they are broadcasted globally. An article by Refinery29 says that “86% of the models represented in 730 ad campaigns in 2014 were white.” The stats speak the truth, and these numbers are alarming. No offense to the white models of the world — it’s just that we have seen too much of the same types of models featured in the same kinds of campaigns way too often.

Just look at the Victoria’s Secret runway show. Everyone is primarily white with the exception of a few black and Latina women. Even if women of color are featured, they are never the focus of the campaign and are usually on the side or in the back. Liu Wen, one of the only three Asian girls to ever walk the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show, is also one of the ten most booked models who is not white. This is certainly reflective of underrepresented groups speaking up against the whiteness that is dictating the fashion market.

Despite models who are frontrunners in advocating for racial diversity in fashion (shout out to the legendary Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell), the primarily white fashion market still needs to reevaluate its casting decisions. In the four major fashion weeks of 2013 (New York, Milan, London, Paris), there were “848 White models, 63 Black models, 59 Asian models, 20 Hispanic models, and three from the Middle East,” according to Clutch Magazine. These obviously lopsided stats demonstrate a need for an immediate call to action and change in the fashion industry.

In 2013, Prada casted its first black female model, which it hasn't done in 19 years. The last black model they casted was Naomi Campbell in 1994. Wow, Prada... You deserve a cookie for realizing after 19 years that not only white people can be cast. It angers me whenever the fashion industry thinks it’s cute to do all black editorial spreads or start casting models of different races after being criticized for being predominantly white (I see you, Dior).

It is undeniable that the global market still demands what they are comfortable with and used to — white people running shit like it’s always been. Though baby steps are being taken for more diversity, the pace is very gradual.

What do you think about this dilemma? Sound off in the comments below!

StyleEric Chuang1 Comment