"We represent a lot of ethnic girls…."

by jennine on October 17, 2007

Today, I performed a quick little experiment. Pulling all the face shots of blonde hair/blue eyed models and black models off the Style.com’s backstage coverage of SS/08. Fatigued and overwhelmingly disappointed I gave up by the time I reached Diane Von Furstenburg.

Personally, I’ve always hated the white vs. black debate in racism, being as most the world is neither black or white. But in this country we like to “simplify” matters. In an interesting article in the New York Times stating the lack of diversity on the runways. Not only are models extraordinarily thin, but also overwhelmingly white. In the United States, 30% of the population is not white, while on the runways 30% of the runway shows did not have any other ethnicity than white, and all the others had mostly white models.

“It’s heartbreaking for me now because the agents send the girls out there to castings and nobody wants to see them,” said Ms. [Bethann] Hardison, referring to black models. “And if they do, they’ll call afterward and say, ‘Well, you know, black girls do much better in Europe, or else black girls do much better in New York, or we already have our black girl.’”Title is a quote taken from NYT article (Ignoring Diversity, Runways Fade to White)… Ivan Bart, the senior vice president of IMG Models

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The Black Issue | THE COVETED
June 30, 2008 at 9:56 am

{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kat October 17, 2007 at 5:15 pm

Well said! I don’t understand it, I’m so bored of looking at the same blonde haired blue eyed girl. I live in Australia, which is definately a multi-cultural society, I’m going to have to have a look at our runway models now, editorial models are definately not multi-national.
On a different note, the beautiful dark model, second from the left, what show was she in, I love the shoulder armour she has on?


2 jennine October 17, 2007 at 5:20 pm

oooh that’s chanel iman. the armour plate is made of feathers… for alexander mcqueen. cool, eh?


3 The Clothes Horse October 17, 2007 at 6:29 pm

I agree the runways are not diverse enough, but then again diversity isn’t just shown in skin tone. And where are all the Asians?


4 Sandra Mendoza-Daly October 17, 2007 at 6:32 pm

One of the most impressive things about the Box Eight shows in LA was the diversity of models. Can’t say specifically what race because they appeared multi-racial, but it was a nice change of scenery.

I too wish we could see more diversity on the runway. But women of Latin and African decent are going to be naturally curvy, at least compared to Anglo models. Do you think the fashion world is ready to embrace not only diverse color but body shape? Seems like a stretch.


5 NAIK FUR October 17, 2007 at 8:01 pm

I love when you pay attention to the less talked about matters in the fashion world, I think you stand out as diverse among most fashion bloggers I come across. thank you for being a conscious fashion blogger on past issues as well.


6 riz October 17, 2007 at 8:25 pm

I agree with clothes horse. when difference is skin deep its not very convincing that things are changing!! when 1 black girl makes it, the problem is she’s IT for the next 5 years. We’ll be seeing Chanel for a very long time i predict…


7 Anonymous October 17, 2007 at 9:59 pm

Yeah, it is a damn shame that no one cares about diversity and that multiculturalism is a joke on the runways. We need to stand up and give a shit so they stop marketing a distorted image of the “real world” to us! If they make it palatable, we will swallow should bot apply in this instance. ;D


8 Anonymous October 18, 2007 at 10:50 am

it’s absolutely shocking, lydia naomi and chanel are practically the only ones… there are no indian or asian models….
or even that many girls with olive skin and brown hair and eyes (as i do, I’m italian)


9 Kim October 18, 2007 at 11:48 am

thanks for writing about this…the first pic with all the models is very powerful isn’t it? i’ve been talking about this for a while and it’s nice to see others doing it as well.


10 a365_ October 18, 2007 at 12:27 pm

Thought you might find this article on the same subject interesting - http://www.femalefirst.co.uk/lifestyle-fashion/stylenews/Vivienne+Westwood-3997.html


11 Mothra October 18, 2007 at 7:27 pm

Pretty girls make graves.


12 Jen (MahaloFashion.Com) October 18, 2007 at 9:46 pm

^ huh?


13 -S October 19, 2007 at 8:08 am

i think it is rather ridiculous that more and more designers are only haveing white models. everybody looks towards ashion, and everybody likes to see that they are represented on the runway. although it is impossible to feature someone from every country, and equal representation must be met. and it is true, blonde hair, blue eyed girls are seen more and more, and everyone else less and less. even at times a brunette is a shocker for some fashion houses.


14 monika October 20, 2007 at 1:26 pm

diversity is good, but i hate how whenever there is an article about diversity in the news, it’s always about black vs. white, nevering considering asians or other races. :( they need to widen their scope!


15 Pressman October 21, 2007 at 10:29 am


I agree with the sentiment, but don’t you think it makes your post from October 19, ‘Oh Karl’, a bit silly? Let’s look at the quote:

… To do this job you must be able to accept injustice - the same goes for fashion. There are other careers. You can work for Social Security, get promoted and work behind a counter. It’s a safe bet. If you want social justice, be a civil servant. Fashion is ephemeral, dangerous and unfair.

Obviously Lagerfeld is posturing, but it’s a very shallow position he’s taking, and a dangerous point to argue.


16 jennine October 21, 2007 at 11:34 am


i agree… that is a really silly point for karl to put it up, and i think it’s important to be aware of the kinds of attitudes, ironic or not associated with the fashion industry.



17 The Image Coop October 22, 2007 at 8:15 am

Hadley Freeman of The Guardian (UK) has an interesting piece on the same subject.


The agencies must take some responsibility but I agree with HF, it’s a matter of supply and demand. Select, Ford etc are in the business of making money and if they thought they could increase profits by signing on more ethnic minority girls then their books would be bursting with black and Asian models. The fact is that they can’t sell those faces on the same scale as, say, the eastern european models.

Designers need to rethink the accepted model aesthetic and extend a bit of their creative thinking to their choice of girls.


18 Ayomide October 22, 2007 at 11:24 am

I agree that there should be more skin tones represented, african american, asian, spanish. but one thing I don’t get is if they are going to just use caucasian girls why blond, at least make them different. Every girl in your experiment looks the same.


19 Mary October 22, 2007 at 12:50 pm

There are hardly any Asian models because Asians are short. How often do you see a young Asian female that meets the 5′8″ height requirement? Very rarely. True, few white females are 5′8″ or taller, but amongst Asians it’s even less. In addition, Asian parents tend to encourage their daughters to go into “respectable” professions and steer them away from “superfluous” jobs like modeling.

That’s why you never see Asian runway models in New York or Europe.


20 Anonymous January 2, 2008 at 11:02 pm

i know im a little late in commenting on this issue but i have to say i agree with Mary’s point. I think it is important for women of all colours, shapes and heights to be represented and catered for in the fashion industry. The scope really needs to be broadened, as your two images show, and the truth is, beauty is not limited to the likes of tall, blond, blue eyed caucasian woman. Being something of an amateur aspiring model, on the shorter side and having a dark complexion (i am indian)i have found it incredibly difficult to find any kind of work. The industry needs to look at the message it is sending worldwide.


21 I'm not white I just look it... January 21, 2009 at 7:12 pm

Hello, I appreciate the way this article sheds light on the problems in the fashion industry and I wholeheartedly believe that the runway and the whole fashion industry needs to diversify.

However I do have one question for you, do you know the exact ethnic backgrounds of the “White” models in the pictures you have posted?

When I look at that first photo collage picture, I see far more than just white models, I do see quite a few white models, but I also saw quite a few that could easily be multi ethnic.

When I looked at the shots of blonde hair/blue eyed models I saw my friends and I . All mixed, (some albino) and multi-ethnic and all proud of our heritage. Yes we are all mistaken for white (I closely resemble the model at the end of the very first row) and one might think that our click has a bunch of mostly “White girls” and only a few of color, but that is not the case for we are all of color even if one can’t tell.

All the best!


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