Monday, February 4, 2008

WSJ: "Crossing Fashion's Thin White Line"

Fashion Week is up and running again and after all the criticism last Fall about the lack of models of color on the runway there does seem to be some improvement this go round with the leggy likes of Jourdan Dunn, Mimi Roche, and Yordanos on the catwalk doing what models do best walk.

Did the world stop spinning? Did buyers stop buying? I don't think so. Nordstrom and Neiman's will still buy the clothes that they think will sell regardless of who is wearing them on the runway. Is anyone asking for quotas? No. Many just want models of color to be sent on the same go-sees that unknown European models are sent to everyday.

The Wall Street Journal shed some more light on the issue recently:

Just who is responsible for diversity on the runway depends on whom you ask. Casting directors say they work for the designers, so if the designers decide ethnic models don't fit their aesthetic, they don't hire them. Designers gripe that they would use more minority models, but the agencies don't send any "good" ones. And the modeling agencies say they aren't scouting and developing many minority models because the market hasn't been demanding their services.

A designer's goal with an expensive fashion show is to keep attention on his or her clothes, not the models. That's why, many designers privately explain, they don't like to hire distinctive-looking models, either ethnically or otherwise. But the public concern has put so much pressure on the industry that some say they have to change.

"The tricky thing about this business is that [designers and casting directors] can always say it's a matter of personal and aesthetic freedom," says Roman Young, an agent at Elite Model Management. "You wonder, 'Are they racist or are they just dumb?'" Mr. Young says he hasn't been aggressively scouting models of color because, until now, designers haven't demanded them. Very young, newly scouted models are highly in demand every season since the market likes fresh, unknown faces.

...As for whether the industry will ever change, Ms. Venditti says it's all about whether racial diversity becomes the latest fashion trend. "In general, [the industry] is a bunch of followers," she says. But "the conversation has started."


CHIC NOIR said...

Mimi Roche is one of my favorites.She was doing very well about 2-3 years ago before that fashion black out. She should be up top right beside Channel Iman.

I wish blk stars would not wear the clothes of desighners who don't use black models and support more blk fashion designers.

princessa said...

I wish we would see more ethnic models and even more, I wish we would see models with real bodys (like you and me, after all we are the ones buying!)
The industry is starting to make an effort in Europe to introduce models that are not too skinny as they do not reflect the population.
Maybe in the near future we might see rounder ethnic models on the catwalks!

Ashley said...
This comment has been removed by the author. said...

wishing to see new models.. I think, the market for fashion designing will keep growing.