Runway Models Even Whiter Than You’d Expect

In the latest round of fashion weeks in New York, London, Milan, and Paris, nearly 90% of models cast were white.

Graphic by Kate Rushing.

Paris Fashion Week just ended, bringing fall 2013 fashion month to an end. And, unsurprisingly but quite worrisomely, the models cast for the shows were overwhelmingly white, with black models and hispanic models landing a disconcertingly small share of runway jobs.

Kate Rushing, a contributor to the site Style Minutes, which tracks runway model data, made the above infographic to emphasize just how bad this problem is getting. For her analysis, Rushing looked at 479 shows — more than the 413 Style.com posted of the fall 2013 collections. Following New York Fashion Week, Jezebel used Style.com’s shows to analyze the racial breakdown of just that city’s runways, finding that 82.7 percent of runway looks were shown on white models, 9.1 percent on Asian models, and 6 percent on black models.

So, New York’s runways were slightly more diverse than all four fashion capitals’ runways combined, but they were still whiter than the previous show season (for which Jezebel found that 79.4 percent of fashion week jobs went to white models).

At a recent panel discussion put on by the Model Alliance, an organization that advocates for better working conditions for models, founder and model Sara Ziff raise an interesting question about the industry’s white ideal. “Would it be fair to say the fashion industry is racist?” she wondered. “There are very few industries that you could say, ‘oh we’re just not doing black girls this season,’ which I’ve heard.”

So, is it?

Gonzalo Fuentes / Reuters

South Korean designer Lie Sang Bong’s women’s ready-to-wear fashion show at Paris Fashion Week.

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