Fashion diversity: fact or faux?
Last Friday, an article was published in Metro Holland, a Dutch magazine, stating the opinion of the editor-in-chief of Vogue Netherlands. Below, a translation of an extract of the interview, which caused a lot of controversy, and rightly so.
“According to Karin Swerink, editor-in-chief of Vogue Netherlands, the lack of dark models on her cover is due to the lack in offerings of these models. At this moment, there is only one good dark model, and that is Imaan Hammam. Whenever it is possible, we put her on our cover, but that isn’t always possible.”
There’s no surprise that an ignorant comment like this caused a lot of controversy. Not only does she portray models of different ethnicities as ‘dark models’ (which sounds pretty racist in my opinion), she also states they are not good enough. Plenty of models from a wide range of nationalities have been fighting for years to obtain the same possibilities and rights as others do. A statement like this shouldn’t be given by anyone, let alone someone who embodies a position that has influence on the attitude of an entire nation towards those of any race, gender and sexual orientation. After the whole controversy, Vogue NL released a statement saying that some parts in the interview might be misinterpreted. A weak move if you ask me.
Sadly, she is not the only one who thinks that way. Other magazines have had periods of 5 to over 12 years, where the cover lacked any diversity in ethnicity. And this reflects towards the occupation of models on fashion weeks. A study done by The Fashion Spot shows that of the 9926 models that walked on the spring season of last year’s fashion week, there was only 22,4 percent of models that had any difference in ethnicity.
Over the past century, there has been a huge progression in the representation of diversity on catwalks, but there is a long way to go. Balance Diversity, an organization that fights for more racial diversity, has been trying for years to open model agencies and casting agents up for more diversity in fashion. Their goal is to shift the mentality so that the presence of these people on fashion magazines and shows are seen as natural.
I have always been proud of those who fight for equality in fashion. Even though it is 2017, it seems like a significant part of fashion peeps are living with blinkers. It is time to take responsibility for all actions that exclude or offend any kind of humans. Racism in fashion? Not cool.