when it comes to diversity, campaigns are lagging behind the runway

While we're seeing more representations of non-white models each season, is progress being made fast enough?

by Wendy Syfret
05 May 2017, 3:25am

Alexander Wang was among a handful of brands showing a commitment to diversity across their campaigns.


In recent years, there have been some real efforts to address the considerable issues around diversity in fashion. Brands like GucciProenza SchoulerAlexander Wang and Marques' Almeida have made very public commitments to representing different presentations of beauty, but industry-wide — there's a long way to go. The Fashion Spot's most recent diversity report, looking at spring 2017 ad campaigns, showed considerable room for improvement.

While the autumn/winter 16 campaign season saw the presence of non-white models jump by an impressive 23.3 percent, this time we only saw an increase of 1.2 percent. As Fashionista points out, it's a stark comparison to the 27.9 percent improvement we saw on the runway in the past season.

There were some impressive standouts though: at least 50 percent of models cast in Alexander Wang, Stella McCartney, Zara, Gap, Express and Net-a-Porter campaigns were people of colour. Additionally the majority of models cast by Saint Laurent were non white — considerable considering the brand didn't represent one person of colour between 2001 and 2015. Similarly while Gucci only had one woman of colour this season, their Pre-Fall 2017 campaign exclusively featured non-white models.

On the other end of things, CélineArmani and Alberta Ferretti all failed to cast a single person of colour. Lack of diversity at Armani and Alberta Ferretti was especially notable as Armani's Fall 2016 "new woman" campaign starred Liya Kebede, Liu Wen, Elisa Sednaoui and Amanda Murphy and was presented as a statement about the brand's commitment to presenting different kinds of beauty. While Alberta Ferretti have previously posted about their commitment to diversity on Instagram.

We also saw a step back for models over 50 years old. After a recent boom in the presence of older women in campaigns only Lauren Hutton appeared this season — twice, for Calvin Klein Underwear and Bottega Veneta. Overall, only 0.5 percent of models cast were mature.

The diversity report paints a more positive picture for trans models: after the autumn/winter 2017 runway featured more transgender models than ever before, several girls appeared in spring 2017 campaigns. Lea T fronted Riccardo Tisci's final Givenchy campaign while Stav Strashko and Hari Nef appeared in Urban Outfitters' Class of 2017.

Ultimately, the numbers show there has been some progress but things are moving slowly. — it was just pretty slow. Which after so much promise on the runway doesn't feel super satisfying. 


Text Wendy Syfret

Alexander Wang
stella mccartney
Saint Laurent
spring/summer 17
diversity report