Models address 'racist runway' issue

Last updated 10:21 12/09/2013
Jessica White
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SPEAKING UP: Model Jessica White wants equality on the catwalk.

Naomi Campbell
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NAOMI CAMPBELL: The infamous model walks the runway for Diane Von Fursternberg at New York Fashion Week.
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IMAN: The 58-year-old model says there were more black models working in the '70s than there are now.

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Jessica White says the lack of black models on the runway is "a problem".

The model has been a regular at New York Fashion Week over the last few days, including attending a DKNY party on Monday night.

The question of black models has been a big one during the bi-annual fashion event this time around, after Diversity Coalition spokeswoman Bethann Hardison spoke out on the subject.

She wrote a letter to the Council of Fashion Designers of America demanding diversity become a topic of discussion at New York Fashion Week.

"Fashion is constantly changing from decade to decade, but I don't see a change in how many black faces I see on the runway, and it's something we should talk about because it's a problem," Jessica told New York Daily News' Confidential column.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America is heavily involved with show season. In her letter, Bethann suggested Calvin Klein and Donna Karan were fashion houses which didn't use enough black models - although Chanel Iman and Joan Smalls walked for Donna this week.

Jessica didn't expressly talk about the remarks, instead focusing on all black women have done for fashion.

"We're creating trends, not just following them," she explained. "Right now there's a hot trend called Ghetto Goth. Look at Rihanna. She's doing it really well. It stems from the urban community."

Bethann has backing from some heavy hitters in the industry. Earlier this week she was joined by Naomi Campbell and Iman on TV show Good Morning America, with all three women calling out the apparent injustice.

"The statistics, it's really shocking," Naomi said. "Heartbreaking. Your body and beauty, it doesn't matter what colour you are. If you've got the right talent, you should be there having the opportunity to do the job."

Iman added: "There were more black models working [in the '70s] than it is happening in 2013. "There is a time when silence is not acceptable at all...You know, this is not the business of shaming. And as we go back again to clarify it, nobody is calling any of these designers racist. The act itself is racism."

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