STYLE

September's SS/18 Fashion Shows Were The Most Diverse Yet, But Where's The Variety In Diversity?

Not good enough. 🙅

13/10/2017 14:14 BST

Did the most recent fashion month look any different to previous seasons? Curvier, browner, yellower and non-binary? Tick all of the above.

The runways this September were the most “diverse” since, well, ever, according to The Fashion Spot’s Diversity Report, which was released on Thursday 12 October.  

Whilst this is a step in the right direction, the catwalk representation still leaves much to be desired - as across London, New York, Milan and Paris, 69.8% of castings were white models and just 30.2% were women of colour.

Though The Fashion Spot does not get into the details about the backgrounds which make up the non-white models, with less than a third of models being non-white it’s clear that there was not room for fair representation of people of different ethnic origins.

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New York has led the cities in embracing diversity for a few seasons now, Jennifer Davidson, editor-in-chief of The Fashion Spot, told HuffPost UK that there increase in diversity cannot be seen as a reaction to Trump.

“There are many factors at play here, including societal changes, vocal cries for diversity, more diverse casting options than ever before, and designers that consistently embrace diversity in many forms,” she said.

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However, when the words diversity is used - it seems as though there is still a narrow and non-inclusive thinking on what that really means.

For example, across all fashion weeks, South Asian and Indigenous models were a rare sight and the hunger for these faces was made apparent when a South Asian model was put in the limelight. 

Supriya Lele, an emerging fashion designer who is part of the Fashion East initiative, held one of the only shows to open with a South Asian model: Chawntell Kulkarni.

Kulkarni, a physicist and part-time model, also appeared in the recent H&M Fall Fashion campaign.

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For diversity within sizes, Paloma Elsesser broke out in her first catwalk show, and Ashley Graham and Sabina Karlsson walked at Michael Kors, Candice Huffine joined Graham at Gurung, and Natalie Nootenboom joined the Hadid sisters at Anna Sui. 

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London’s Teatum Jones’ show also included plus-size and disabled models. 

Similarly for gender, 2017 showcased a rise in transgender and non-binary appearances occurring in New York, as well as 10 trans and non-binary castings in Paris, seven in Milan and one in London.

So what can we expect from next season?

Davidson states: “I think size diversity is the next frontier: curve models walking alongside straight-size models on the runway. A few designers (Christian Siriano, Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, for example) have shown that this can be done successfully and organically.”

Though many players and spectators hope definitions of diversity broaden and progress,

It will be telling in next February’s shows, whether designers’ definitions of diversity broaden and progress.