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About 80% of This Season's Runway Models Were White

Photo: Victor Virgile/Getty Images

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Yet again, white models dominated the runways this season from New York to Paris, according to The Business of Fashion's research. The site crunched the numbers, surveying 117 key shows reviewed during the fashion weeks for New York, London, Milan, and Paris. BoF deduced that of the 3,875 model bookings, only 797 were models of color (defined as black, Asian, non-white Hispanic, and other). That means 79.4% of models on the runway during Fashion Month were white.

Black models made up of 10.2% of bookings, according to BoF. Asian models made up 6.5% of bookings, and Hispanic models accounted for only 1.6% of bookings. BoF's "other" category, including models of Indian and Middle Eastern descent, accounted for 2.3% of bookings.

"It’s not a particularly diverse industry," Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan told BoF. "We are drawn to people who look like us," she said. "Unless they’re making a conscious decision to deviate from the standard, then the standard is what they go for. And [their] standard is blonde and blue eyed."

In addition to the diversity report, BoF published op-eds from professors and industry figures, including Bethann Hardison of the Diversity Coalition, who asserts that the politics behind modeling agency's exclusives are making things worse for models of color and the industry. Hardison writes:

I’ve got so many calls from designers, this season, saying that the agencies were not sending them black girls. Brands that really want to diversify, that don’t want to have an all-white cast — they can’t get the girls. Agencies hold these girls for well-known brands with important casting directors and stylists, leaving other brands with less choice of models of colour. I also received complaints from certain magazines and beauty advertisers.

Hardison believes that modeling agencies aren't allowing promising models of color to be seen by all the brands that ask. "But many people in the industry are trying to embrace diversity, and currently agencies are holding the girls — for what, I don’t know. Unfortunately, it’s a Catch 22. Our modelling industry has never been as politically strapped as it is now," she writes.