Racial Diversity Improved Slightly At NYFW, But Plus-Size Representation Fell
The numbers are in and unsurprisingly, New York Fashion Week still has a long way to go when it comes to diversity.
With its seasonal runway report, The Fashion Spot assessed 82 major shows during New York Fashion Week's Fall 2019 collections for representation amongst race, size, and age. While racial diversity saw aslightimprovement and transgender castings increased, there was a decrease in the already-low number of plus-size models to walk the runways. In other words, there's still a lot of work to be done—and the industry's progress is moving at a glacial pace.
Racial Diversity Increased, But Barely
Last season's Spring 2019 shows were the most racially diverse in NYFW history, with models of color accounting for 36.9% of the runways, but this season only saw a 0.4% increase in nonwhite models. It should be noted that the Fall 2019 season included significantly less shows and presentations in New York, with more designers heading to Paris or opting out completely. For instance, brands like Tome, Tracy Reese, and Helmut Lang typically cast inclusive and diverse shows, but they did not show this season.
The Fall 2019 season's runways were 62.7% white and 37.3% models of color.
Plus-Size Model Casting Decreased
Though the industry is making small strides for racial diversity, body diversity is still lagging far behind. For Fall 2019, 26 plus-size models walked in only eight New York shows—accounting for just 1.1% of total model castings.
Leading the way, once again, was Christian Siriano, who cast 10 plus-size models in his 10th anniversary show. Also notably celebrating all sizes on the runway was Chromat, who cast 9 plus-size models. Meanwhile, several designers, including Michael Kors and Prabal Gurung, cast only one plus-size model in their show: Ashley Graham.
While Graham has been a beacon for body positivity in the fashion industry, it should be noted that there are plenty of other plus-size models who also deserve spots in top shows—and one token Ashley Graham casting does not suddenly make your brand inclusive or body positive.
Transgender Casting Increased
In terms of improvements, trans visibility made the most progress this season. Thirty-three transgender women and non-binary models walked in 23 shows—an increase from Spring 2019's 31 trans models.
Teddy Quinlivan, a model who came out as transgender last September, led the pack with nine major castings in shows like Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, and Alexander Wang. Marc Jacobs, meanwhile, cast four transgender models: Hunter Schafer, Massima Lei, Ariel Murtagh, and Dara Allen.
Since Fall 2019, the number of transgender castings has more than doubled, from 12 castings to 33.
In a time of championing female empowerment and equality, it's perplexing that the fashion industry is still so far behind in celebrating women of all sizes, races, and ethnicities. Though many brands may be inching closer to more diversity on the runway, it's clear that there's still a long way to go—and there's no excuse for such slow progress anymore.
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