18 Jul Are alternative modeling agencies really helping to create a more diverse fashion industry? | Fashionista
Written by Annamarie Houlis for Fashionista.com
July 18, 2017
Burgeoning agencies are reclaiming individuality in an industry that too often promotes a singular and subjective notion of what it means to be “beautiful,” but are more agencies that section models off othering our individuality in their attempt to promote it?
It’s no secret that brands are increasingly aware of criticism surrounding narrow representation in casting, and a subculture of casting directors are making strides in championing diversity. Fall 2017’s women’s ready-to-wear shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris, for example, made up the most racially diverse season in recent years, with women of color representing nearly 28 percent of the models walking in the 241 on-schedule shows. It’s a meager 3.2 percent increase from Fall 2016, but it’s progress nonetheless.
In New York, body diversity had an unsurpassed season, too, with 26 plus-size model castings. Likewise, middle-aged women and transgender models made more appearances on the runways than ever before. While we are witnessing a period of change — an indisputably positive development — creatives know well that the media is inclined to cover campaigns that feature unconventional models. Whether their commitment runs any deeper, however, is surely open to conjecture — and when they merely tick boxes, inclusivity becomes tokenism.
“Sometimes we see diversity, and it’s a contrived kind of publicity stunt, and then we have people who just genuinely want to see something different than traditional models,” says Gilleon Smith, casting director for Chromat, an architectural swim and athletic wear brand acclaimed for having the most inclusive runway show for Fall 2017, with 77 percent models of color, five transgender women and five plus-size models. “Brands like Chromat are not doing this for any sort of press; they’re doing this because that’s who they see on the streets of New York City, and that’s who they want in their shows. These real people are representative of the brands and what they stand for.”