Is the fashion industry too 'white'?

Last updated 05:00 09/03/2013

WORRYING STATS: Here, models walk the runway at the Christian Dior Fall/Winter 2013 show, in a fashion month where 87.6 per cent of the models were white.

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Fashion month saw 479 high-end shows take over New York, London, Milan and Paris, and 87.6 per cent of the models that walked the runway at these were 'white'. 

Kate Rushing, a contributor to Style Minutes, discovered that of the 968 models that walked at least one show in the Fall collections, only 63 were black, 59 Asian, 20 Hispanic and three Middle Eastern. 848 were white. 

Of all the cities involved in the new season fashion month, New York was 'the least white', with 82.7 per cent of the models on the catwalk identified as Caucasian. 

At a recent panel discussion put on by Model Alliance, a group that aims to ensure good working conditions for models, the organisation's founder Sara Ziff raised a question about the fashion world's attitude toward race.

"Would it be fair to say the fashion industry is racist?" she asked. "There are very few industries that you could say, 'oh, we're just not doing black girls this season,' which I've heard." 

This point is backed up by Carole White from Premier Model Management, who told the Daily Mail that the problem stems from Milan and Paris. "There, they absolutely don't want black girls. A black model has to be a real star before you can take her there. They only take a black girl when the biz is buzzing about her."

Other worrying signs from the fashion cannon include the fact that from 1892-2012, 99 per cent of Vogue's covers were of white women. There was also the way Tyra Banks was dubbed 'the new Naomi Campbell' when she burst onto the scene, despite the fact the two really look nothing alike (or, in fact, act nothing alike).

But perhaps the most abhorrent moment was when Jean-Paul Guerlain said that he'd "worked harder than a n***er" to make his perfumes on French TV in 2010. He went on to say 'N***ers have never worked as hard as he works to make his perfumes'.

Or maybe it was when Italian Vogue ran a 2011 editorial of hoop earrings called 'Slave Earrings' in which they compared the earrings seen on white models on the runway to those seen on the early African slaves in the Americas.


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