The lights fade with attention directed towards the empty catwalk. The beat of the music jumps through your skin. The rush of seeing models take center stage is one thing, but seeing models that represent YOU is a whole other feeling.
Seeing runways cascaded with diverse hues of skin tones, sizes, ages, and genders is a beautiful thing and on my runways shows at AMCONYC, I believe that there is immense strength in a diverse runway.
In the fashion world seeing models of color walking the runway is few and far between. Even though the industry is making attempts to ensure that runway diversity mirrors our society there is still work to be done.
The fact remains that models of color such as Africans, Latinos, Asians, etc are not typically seen walking big runway shows. Runway diversity is an uphill battle when it comes to models of different ethnicities (other than white) landing spots in big-name fashion shows.
According to a recent Business of Fashion study article, only 797 of the 3,875 model bookings this season were models of color.
Shows like Yeezy Season 4, Kimora Lee Simmons, Brandon Maxwell, Telfar and Ashish have been praised for having diversity in their runway shows with more than 60% of their models being of color.
As stated in Vogue, Spring 2016 did provide some of the first hints of headway on runway diversity. But appearing in the shows is only half the fight. What also matters is where you are positioned in the lineup. Designers often save the opening spot in their shows for the women they feel embody the collection as a whole, and this spring several fashion houses chose minority models for their prestige top position.
While moments of inclusion have provided a hopeful outlook, there is still plenty of work to be done when it comes to seeing a true representation on the runway.
Body diversity is slowly being shown on high fashion runway shows. At NYFW Christian Siriano’s runway show showcased a number of curvy models featured for his collection.
He is a designer known to not shy away from representing diversity. According to Today in response to him sending plus-size models down the catwalk at fashion week was not intended to make a huge statement, he simply just chose beautiful MODELS.
"I just wanted to have different sizes," Siriano said. "That's all it was. But it's great that it made such an impact; that's awesome. I'm glad people were excited. I really didn't think people would even think about it!"
Regardless of Siriano's intentions, his actions are making a statement in an industry known for snubbing women are plus size from walking their runways.
A stand for representation on the runway is a battle worth fighting for in the hopes for inclusion. The group least represented in shows are those who identify as transgender.
According to thefashionspot, a total of eight transgender models were cast at Fashion Weeks in New York, Paris, and London. That’s a slight increase from the Spring 2016 season, which saw five transgender model castings in total.
With celebrities such as Caitlyn (Bruce) Jenner who now has a line at MAC Cosmetics, helped to further push the door for others like her. Even though this is a small feat it creates pathways for models such as Laith Ashley, Hari Nef, and many others to take on fashion shows to a point where it will become the norm.
Beauty knows no age yet the fashion industry has yet to catch up with this revelation. There is a serious lack of age diversity on the catwalk which we hope will soon change.
Designer Tracy Reese went against all stereotypes and cast women of all sizes and ages to showcase her floral and lacy looks in her spring 2017 show.
There is no other way to put it, representation matters. I believe that this is a key factor in what makes fashion beautiful, being able to share cultures, customs, that are different from what we are used to. The day that more designers can begin to view diversity as one of societies greatest strengths, we then could continue making progress both on and off the runway.