Progress Has Been Made for Runway Diversity, But Is it Enough?

Last season, we were disappointed at the astounding lack of diversity at New York Fashion Week, but it appears that progress was still made, and it’s even worth crediting. The Diversity Coalition, led by former model Bethann Hardison has sent a more favorable update to the Council of Fashion Designers of America today based on this past September’s shows.

In an e-mail to president Diane von Furstenberg and CEO Steven Kolb, the Diversity Coalition acknowledged the progress that certain fashion houses, such as Calvin Klein, Narciso Rodriguez, and The Row, have made, but cautioned, “The objective is to continue this improvement across the entire industry. We look for consistency and not because of advocacy or a season lending to darker skin. We will continue to watch and reveal season to season.”

Her e-mail also noted: “It is important to say that there are design houses serviced by casting directors and stylists who are latent, as they seem comfortable with stereotypical images.”

At WWD’s request, Hardison was reluctant to give last season’s progress a letter grade.“Let’s grade them after this collection,” she said, “In our industry, we tend to follow things once we know they’re OK.”

Hardison sent e-mails critiquing the British Fashion Council, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, and the Fédération Française de la Couture as well. Anna Wintour, Miuccia Prada, Franca Sozzani, and Valentino are said to have earned praise from Hardison.

We admire the strides that have been made, but still remain skeptical when we look at the hard numbers. What we are sure of is that runway diversity will continue to be a hot topic as we embark on NYFW this Thursday, whether runways are monochrome or not.




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