Diversity Coalition Letter Calls Out Rascism on the Runways, and the Fashion World Responds

ByCandace Bryan

The Diversity Coalition recently sent letters to fashion councils around the world, imploring them to take action against the racism that permeates the fashion world — specifically, the exclusion of racially diverse models in runway shows.

According to WWD, the letter called out everyone involved in the casting process, and preemptively dismissed excuses fashion insiders have used in the past. The Coalition frankly reminded those in charge that "eyes are on an industry that season after season watches design houses consistently use one or no models of colour," and that "no matter the intention, the result is racism." More from the letter:

"Not accepting another based on the colour of their skin is clearly beyond aesthetic when it is consistent with the designer's brand. Whether it's the decision of the designer, stylist or casting director, that decision to use basically all white models reveals a trait that is unbecoming to modern society. It can no longer be accepted, nor confused by the use of the Asian model."

Although the honest letter might have served as a much-needed wake-up call, the four major fashion capitals have responded to with varying degrees of lukewarm disinterest.

  • America's CFDA said they had already sent emails in the weeks leading up to New York Fashion Week to industry influencers and CFDA members, hoping to encourage diversity on the NYFW catwalks.
  • The British Fashion Council said although they are not in charge of casting models, they do encourage London Fashion Week designers to "recognise that London is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world" "consider reflecting this demographic at their shows and presentations."
  • The Parisians actually refuted the Coalition's accusation and pointed to the fact that impending Paris runways will present designers of 22 nationalities.
  • The Italian Chamber of Fashion thinks they've already done enough. "The Chamber has taken action against showing models that are too young or too slim on the runway, in an anti-anorexia effort, and penalises those companies that are found at fault, but has never [deliberated] on skin colour."

Though these responses aren't surprising, they're disappointing. Perhaps, though, the industry's reaction to the Diversity Coalition can help bring to light the lax attitude the fashion world has about race and equal opportunities. And perhaps, if more people call them out on their lack of concern, they'll start to realize the errors of their ways.