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Crucial Update

Neelam Gill is Undoing Fashion's Racism, One Sari at a Time

Neelam Gill
Neelam Gill
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

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British-Punjabi model Neelam Gill is representing brown girls so well. After being booked by Burberry as their first model of Indian origin, she was recently seen filming an ad for British Airways. Gill was on set wearing a stunningly Fall-appropriate and rich oxblood sari with gold embellishments.

The fashion industry has a huge diversity problem that no effort is being made to fix. As Racked's Assistant Editor, Adele Chapin, reported, black models lead in terms of racial representation by making up 10.2 percent of models who walked in Spring Summer 2016 shows. Though the figure for black models is shockingly low, only 2.3 percent of models booked were of Indian and Middle Eastern descent. These uneven representations of people of color completely disregard their contribution to the fashion industry, both economically and in terms of influence on design.

The prominence of Gill in major ad campaigns, and Desi representation in fashion in general is vital to undoing negative stereotypes about South Asian people. Additionally, having a Punjabi model wearing traditional Indian dress on something that will be broadcast to millions is an astounding development. Hopefully, this will set a precedent for campaigns to come.