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Calvin Klein doesn't usually set the best example when it comes to racial diversity. The brand's New York fashion week shows are always among the whitest around. But this season's ck Calvin Klein campaign is different: three out of the five models cast, two women and one man, are of Asian descent.
Appearing in the ads along with Caroline Brasch Nielsen and Matthijs Meel are the Chinese runway star Liu Wen (who is also the first Asian face of Estée Lauder) and Korean models Sung Jin Park and Ji Hye Park. Steven Klein shot the moody fall ads outside the Beinecke library on the Yale campus.
Although evidence of fashion's stubborn attachment to a European beauty ideal is everywhere — one study found that nearly 90% of the models booked for the fall-winter 2013 runway season were white — you could argue that Asian male models, as a group, are among the least visible in the industry. Asian male models and Asian men in general say they are commonly seen as less "masculine" and less sexy than white, Latino, and black guys. Asian men are rare on the runway and in fashion advertising. So it's especially cool to see Sung Jin Park as a face of a major brand.
Calvin Klein probably didn't give its fall ads a majority-minority cast to make a point about inclusivity; it's a business, and the brand is trying first and foremost to appeal to customers. But maybe, hopefully, one result of our increasingly globalized world will be more luxury advertising that embraces diversity. Even if it is just because companies are finally realizing non-white people have money to spend, too.
— Jenna Sauers