It's no secret that fashion has a diversity problem. From designers to editors to buyers, the industry is overwhelmingly white, but if you zoom the lens closer on the models alone, the imbalance is even more glaring. On top of a lack of ethnic diversity, runway models also tend to represent just one willowy "ideal" body type. This New York Fashion Week, however, there's been a lot of discussion about the number of shows breaking that pattern with their casting choices.
In some cases, this has been framed as a trend—implying that, just as many other things that hit the runway, this may fade with the next season—but that doesn't give these designers and show runners much credit. Sure, there's a chance that some of these instances are one-offs, meant to garner publicity or make an artistic statement unique to this particular collection or some other sad excuse. But then, there are labels like Telfar and Eckhaus Latta that have made this embrace of one global, human community a major cornerstone of their brands and design philosophies.
Rather than wax pessimistic about the probability that these designers might abandon their multi-culti/size/shape/age/gender identity approach to casting for future shows, let's celebrate what's happened this week and encourage the positive collective movement. Also, a little business tip for all the designers trying to, y'know, sell clothes: If potential customers see someone that looks like them wearing your designs, they're *that* much more likely to buy from you. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
On top of being super multi-culti, Telfar wins with its willingness to challenge the definitions of femininity and masculinity in dressing—something the brand has been doing since Day 1.
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For Eckhaus Latta's F/W 2015 show, the label showcased their latest collection on models of various ages as well as a number of transgender models.
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"American Horror Story" actress Jamie Brewer made history this season as the first model with Down Syndrome to walk NYFW.
VFiles Made Fashion
VFiles sourced the models for their VFiles Sport Plus collection from the internet, and the result was a group of "nodels" of many different ethnicities, ages, sizes, and gender identities.
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Designer Nina Perdomo made Megan Silcott's dreams come true by casting the formerly paralyzed teenager and aspiring model in her runway show.
Forever forward and boundary-challenging label Chromat presented Fall/Winter 2015 on women of all sizes.
Vejas showed this latest collection with an aim to represent the real world with a group of transgender and diverse models.
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The FTL Moda runway featured models with braces, in wheelchairs, and Jack Eyers, the first male amputee to walk NYFW.
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Melanie Gaydos, a model with ectodermal dysplasia, oozed infinite confidence in a feathered mini and sky-high platform heels for designer Nina Athansiou.
Joyrich enlisted one of the most multi-cultural and badass-looking groups of models at NYFW.
Nicopanda presented another unisex collection on a cast of models of diverse ethnicities, heights, and sizes.
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Here's to the future!