Just How Diverse Were This Season's Runways Actually?

Colour us disappointed

Historically speaking, the fashion industry has been pretty much as white as a toilet seat. Season after season, runways have been flooded with predominately Caucasian models, a creative decision that sends a bizarre message: “Fair skin sells clothes.” But it’s 2018—Rihanna invented Fenty Beauty and is basically the leader of the free world, so things must have been different at the fall/winter 2018 shows… right? WRONG.

Fashion Week 2018 Diversity: Graphs detailing the diversity—or lack thereof—at the Fall/Winter 2018 shows

A city-by-city breakdown of racial diversity at the Fall/Winter 2018 shows. (Graphic: Leo Tapel)

We took count of every damn look to grace the catwalks of this season’s New York, London, Milan and Paris  shows, and the overall diversity count ranged from aggressively mediocre to straight-up poor. Here’s how each city ranked.

Fashion Week 2018 Diversity: Side-by-side shots of three models at Maki Oh's NYFW Fall/Winter 2018 show, where all the models were POC.

Models on the Maki Oh runway during New York Fashion Week. (Photo: ImaxTree)

New York Fashion Week had the most racial diversity with 37.3% models of colour walking the runways, which wasn’t surprising considering the strides made at last year’s fashion weeks—there was at least one model of colour at every major presentation during the fall/winter 2017 shows, for an overall percentage of 27.9%. The numbers were even better at the spring shows, when 36.9% of the models were POC. When it comes to individual shows, the inclusivity prize goes to Gypsy Sport (76.3%), Chromat (70.6%) and Jason Wu (66.7%). A gold star goes to Maki Oh, who lead the pack with the highest percentage of non-white models at a fresh AF 100% *insert fire emoji here*.

Fashion Week 2018 Diversity: Models at the Central Saint Martins runway show at London Fashion Week

The Central Saint Martins’ London Fashion Week runway was one of the week’s more diverse. (Photo: ImaxTree)

Trailing slightly behind was London Fashion Week with 34.6% POC. Notable designers consistently holding it down for Spice World include Ashish (82.9%) and Gareth Pugh (64.1%). But we’re left shaking our heads at industry powerhouses Ports 1961 (15.5%), Christopher Kane (12.5%) and the worst culprit, Delpozo (a dismal 9.5%). Hopefully the recent graduating class at Central Saint Martins (26.6%) can change things, though—48 of their 177 models were visible minorities, the most of any show at LFW.

Fashion Week 2018 Diversity: A triptych of three models at the Jacquemes Fall/Winter 2018 show

Jacquemus was one of the more exciting Paris Fashion Week shows—and its most diverse. (Photo: ImaxTree)

Paris Fashion Week was as shady as ever, coming in with just 26.5% models of colour. Excuse us if we choose NOT to support Haider Ackermann (9.7%), repeat offender Junya Watanabe (8.1%) or Manish Arora (6.5%). Last prize goes to Undercover (6.1%), which had non-white models wearing only five of 82 looks. Unsurprisingly, the most exciting brand to come out of PFW, Jacquemus, also ~*happened*~ to have the highest percentage of POC (69%) on the runway.

Fashion Week 2018 Diversity: A white model wearing a black and white capelet at Les Copains' Fall/Winter 2018 show, which had no POC models

There were no POC models at Les Copains’ Milan Fashion Week show. (Photo: ImaxTree)

Aaaand, no surprise here: Milan Fashion Week was also super white. While Paris and Milan both tend to lag behind the more progressive New York and London shows, Milan has historically been the least diverse—and that was the case again this season, when only 24.1% of the models at MFW were POC. While two models of colour walked for Daks (3%) and three walked for Albino Teodoro (5%), the worst show surveyed was Les Copains with exactly ZERO models of colour—shame, shame we know your names.

The numbers don’t lie. With very few exceptions, even the most inclusive fall 2018 shows were only actually sort of diverse. This isn’t just a fashion problem—there’s a reason Hollywood needs to implement inclusion riders—but there is a clear need for inclusive casting here. Because dress it up however you’d like, we’ve got a ways to go.


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