As London Fashion Week draws to a close, the tensions surrounding racism in the industry show no sign of abating. Supermodels Iman and Naomi Cambpell have spoken out, identifying the brands that they feel are failing to use models of colour. Iman named Victoria Beckham, Céline, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan, Gucci, Chanel, Armani, Saint Laurent, Roberto Cavalli, and Marc by Marc Jacobs as failing in her eyes. In other words, most of the fashion world’s heavy hitters in terms of both influence and profits.
She stated ”We’re not calling them racist, we’re saying the act was racist.”
Campbell says the situation for black models has become worse – not better – since her debut.
“When I started modeling in ’86 there was Asians, blacks, whites, Indians, Chinese. It was very diverse,” Campbell told CNN. “It’s not like that today. It’s heart-breaking to me that we’re in 2013 and we’re sitting here talking about this. But it has to be done and people need to know.”
In the run up to fashion month, the Diversity Coalition, spearheaded by activist and former model Bethann Hardison, sent letters to the governing bodies of all four fashion capitals listing “fashion houses guilty of this racist act”. The Coalition claim, and rightly so, that fashion designers don’t use enough black models on the catwalks. Hardison also organised a social media campaign to bring public scrutiny to specific designers who do not use black models. By making consumers aware of the designers who do not embrace minorities on the runway, she said, “I wonder if that would make them have second thoughts about buying the shoes, the accessories and the bags.”
Let’s hope Hardison’s campaign resonates with designers and that Paris and Milan step up to the plate in the coming weeks. We’ll be watching closely!
Image via http://www.flickr.com/photos/katysilbs/4467618891/