Random Musings On Fashion Diversity.
Apr 20 2015
The sight of Liya Kebede in an advert for Louis Vuitton on the inside cover of this past weekend's How To Spend It has me mulling over the issue of racial diversity in fashion.
The current issue of Net-A-Porter's The Edit also caught my eye. It features interviews with Indian actress Freido Pinto and poet and LGBT rights activist Staceyann Chin who is black and Asian. The issue also features a gorgeous beauty editorial starring a black model (pictured above). When was the last time you came across that level of racial diversity in any mainstream fashion magazine?
Only a few weeks ago, we were discussing the embarrassing twelve-year gap between black cover models at British Vogue. It seems the real gains in racial diversity are coming from new media sources like Net-A-Porter's The Edit and brand adverts as evidenced by Kebede's work for Louis Vuitton and Lupita Nyong'o's for Lancome. Incidentally, Porter magazine also has a pretty good track record of featuring models of colour.
Brands and e-commerce platforms are not altruistic organisations. They exist for no other reason than to sell us stuff. This would suggest that these brands have understood that displaying their wears on persons of colour somehow makes sound commercial sense. Otherwise, they would carry on with business as usual. In other words, our societies are increasingly complex and diverse and brands are responding to this reality.
It does make me wonder whether traditional fashion glossies are taking note. Can editors like British Vogue Alexandra Shulman (who incidentally has been at the helm of the magazine since 1992) afford to continue with business as usual? The ability to perceive a cultural shift before common mortals and translate it for your readers is a key role of any fashion editor. Will we have to wait twelve more years before we see another black face grace the cover of British Vogue?
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