Monday, September 12, 2011

Are Black Models Being Shut Out of the Industry?

black models and racism

by Shani K. Collins, Your Black World

The presence of black supermodels on the runway has decreased in recent years.  In fact, this year’s New York Fashion Week has been labeled the “whitest since 2008″ by Jezebel.   The lack of ethnic diversity on the runway is linked to the increasing presence of celebrities as models.  Sources report that celebrity endorsement of products helps to boost sells, which is a plus for designers and companies.  April Smith of L’Oreal products said: “Brands see using a celebrity as a way to boost their legacy.  It’s much more difficult to come in when you’re a model who’s relatively unknown.”

Sudanese supermodel, Atong Arjok said of the modeling industry, “This is not an equal opportunity type of business and I really don’t know why.  After Italian Vogue I thought it would get better, but it really hasn’t.”  The 2008 issue of Vogue Italia featured all black supermodels.

A Jezebel report found that there were 137 runway shows and presentations featuring 5,269 fall outfits and items of clothing.  The majority of the 5,269 clothing items were modeled by 4,468 white women–this figure represents 84.8%.  The non-white modeling jobs were given only to 801 women.  Black models were among 384 of the 801.  Modeling even less were women who were featured 323 times, and non-white Latina women, who were featured 79 times.   Those who were from other races were only featured on the runway 15 times.

Several brands featured diversity in their runway shows including 3.1 Phillip Lim, Chado Ralph Rucci, Costello Tagliapietra, Diane von Furstenberg, Elie Tahari, Jason Wu, Nanette Lepore, Nicole Miller, Oscar de la Renta, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, Rachel Roy, Ralph Lauren, Sophie Theallet, Thakoon Panichgul, and Tracy Reese.

The lack of runway opportunities made available to ethnic models is problematic considering that black and ethnic individuals represent a vast majority of consumers of the products that are being pitched to the American public.

Shani K. Collins is a freelance writer.  You may visit her at


Anonymous said...

what else is new,the white world can't take it. The beautifuly black and brown women.

Kwame A. Ross said...

The fact of the matter is that we as black consumers must boycott the industry period. If you don't see yourself in product don't buy it. Simple!!!! pay attention to the subject matter which is marketing the item you admire, what is the publication you are viewing. Pay close attention.