In August 1974, Beverly Johnson made history by being the first black woman to grace the cover of Vogue. But, can we really say that we have made progress, as a new study from the UK Fashion Spot shows the disturbing lack of diversity in Spring 2015’s latest set of fashion ads.
In 2015, the website looked at 577 fashion campaigns and found that of the 811 models, 87% were white. In contrast, black models made up 5.1% of the models, whilst Asian models were at 5.7% and Latina models were at 2.3%. It isn’t only in race that the fashion brands proved to be showing a large disparity, as of all the models, only 1% of the models could be classified as plus sized, and only seemed to show up in the luxury brands. In age too, there seems to be no more than a few models who were over the age of 40.
This lack of representation seems to be more of the case of luxury brands. From Versace to Prada, across the board, only those of a Caucasian background represent these highly respectable brands. Some brands like Chanel and Kenzo seemed to make an active effort to include models from diverse backgrounds, and high street names such as Topshop and H&M fared better, thanks to the inclusion of a range of diverse models in their campaigns.
This lack of diversity in the fashion industry proves exactly why magazines like SANT are needed. People want to free up the racial power structures that are in place in fashion, and allow models to be given an equal chance, regardless of their skin colour. People come in all shapes and sizes across the world, and we need our fashion industry to be able to reflect this. We need our growing generation to be able to see people in fashion reflect who they are, be it plus sized or over 50 years old.
It may seem like a daunting task, for how can we try and even begin to tackle these big brand names? Write a petition? Start your own alternative magazine or join one with a similar goal cough cough? Run an online campaign, battling common female stereotypes? Start discussions amongst friends and get people talking and noticing this is an issue? In this growingly photoshopped world, we need to make a stand against the whitewashing of our front covers, and be able to stand up against the powers. We want to see all types of women representing the brands that we love.
Words: Savena Surana