Legendary model agent and Editor-at-Large of Vogue Italia’s Vogue Black site Bethann Hardison wrote an article today titled, “Will Fashion Ever Integrate?”

Final Walk Chanel Fall/Winter 2011-2012

She says, There are still fashion design houses that choose to remain “all white” in their presentation. Maybe one model of color or two. It is difficult to stand by and watch. I have tried the organic approach and it seemed to have worked for the first couple of years but now I hear since last season in Sept/Oct…” things are slipping back”…It is time again for me to make a physical appearance.”

Fendi Fall/Winter 2011-2012

Though Bethann acknowledges the strides that have been made in the industry since her first Blacks in Fashion talks, she says, “I am concerned as we talk diversity, that the results won’t become permanent. That my industry of fashion designers, old and young, seem stuck in a groove.”

Just Cavalli Final Walk Fall/Winter 2011-2012

I think fashion has become more integrated both on runways and in magazines. About a year ago, I’d struggle to find pictures to include in our daily Snapshot section, which highlights editorials and campaigns featuring men and women of color. Now, the amount of editorials is almost overwhelming. I mean, take a look at our Snapshot from today:

That said, I think diversity behind the scenes is still severely lacking. As I mentioned in an earlier post, you can count the number of black editors attending a fashion show in Europe (specifically Milan and Paris) on two hands if you’re lucky. The invitations don’t roll in easily, the doors seem shut–it’s still a struggle. And it’s commendable that Bethann is choosing to tackle this instead of sit by and say, “Well, that’s just how things are…”
What do you think?

Read her whole article here.

15 thoughts on “Bethann Hardison Asks: Will Fashion Ever Integrate?”

  1. its up to us individuals to change it… i love chanel and its sad they dont use black models…but over the years its improved lets hope that it will be better over the coming years!x

  2. It’s our job as women of color to make our voices heard through our buying power. We should not spend our dollars on luxury brands and designers that don’t promote diverse images of beauty.

  3. It will never get better not while we have people like Uncle Karl and Anna Wintour and Miuccia Prada( I mean who doesn’t have a black model walk their runway for 10 years, who does that?)running things. The lack of ethnic models and healthier looking models is disturbing.

  4. I honestly think one way we can affect change is if we, as black people, simply stopped purchasing their merchandise as well as stock in their companies. Some may say the impact will be limited but I dispute that. We control a vast amount of spending power in the world and yet, we never really yield that power in our own favor like others do… we can talk until the cows come home but hitting these folks in the pockets is what makes them sit up and take notice.

  5. I dont think buying power would do it, honestly. Hair care and beauty industry, perhaps, but not high fashion. Enough of us just dont buy it. (Rightly so, seems like…) We’d need to do a kumbaya type deal (like the way we elected the Pres.)

    I say we “put ’em on blast”. Continually and obnoxiously. If its one thing these houses hate, its negative publicity…not bad publicity (which can sometimes be good for the companies bottom line), negative publicity.

    Think Dior and the recent Galliano follishness.

    See how fast they got rid of his ass? Jewish hate and just good old racism are rampant in France/Italy and in turn, fashion, IMO. Even the revered Ms. Coco Chanel was on the wrong side of that fight with the Nazis.

    I gave up my Holy Grail perfume cause of her past with the Nazi’s. I digress but see? Its super deep, y’all.

  6. i think it’s going to have to be a continious effort on the part of black people who hold positions of power or have the ear of the industry, like bethann, to make sure the fashion industry realizes that it’s unacceptable to act as though we are a trend and that they can refuse to represent people of color in magazines and on the runway when we “go out of fashion”. i definitely think her plan to make some kind of physical appearance, maybe by holding “blacks in fashion” talks again, will let these people know to they need to be on their p’s & q’s and that we are watching them.

  7. When many of u say “we” or “us” are u refering to Blacks?? The post states “Will Fashion Ever Integrate” I think more Black models exist than Asians, First Nations (Indigeneous), Indians etc. We need more South Asians/Asians and Natives in the fashion industry!!!

    And why do Blacks always want to integrate nobody is going to give u a spotlight. Especially, in a industry that is ruled by whites if Blacks had more powers as far as casting and what not they wouldn’t even bother raising the issue about integration.

    I say create ur own opportunities stop waiting for the industry to change and stop waiting for whites to take notice of you.

  8. Great responses about withdrawing buying power, keeping the issue and those tone-deaf to it in the spotlight and creating the opportunities for ourselves. I think the combination of the three are a forceful approach.

  9. Thanks. Interesting read. And I do happen to agree with you about there being more urban models of color being used in editorial.

  10. @gemini- the term i used, people of color, refers to everyone who is not white, so every group that you just mentioned would fall under the umbrella term of people of color. yet, this is a website with a strong emphasis on black women. i don’t think that i or anyone else here should feel badly for putting the plight concerning lack of representation of black women in the forefront, because it’s the one that many readers, including myself as a black woman, understand on a personal level. i think in fighting for our own representation and trying to get the fashion industry to understand that it’s unacceptable to treat racial groups and ethnicities as trends that go in and out of fashion (except white people, who somehow are ALWAYS in fashion and ALWAYS represented), and that they also need to be more inclusive behind the scenes, we’re also fighting the good fight for other racial groups to increase their representation as well. i mean do you think the changes that came about after the civil rights movement only benefitted black people? i also agree that while we fight for more representation in mainstream fashion media, we need to create our own media and opportunities as well.

  11. I love the hard work and creativity of these big fashion houses. However, I do find it quite dissappointing that the public faces of most of these large establishments are mostly white. Every culture has something to bring the fashion industry. Fashion is supposed to be about breaking the mold and being liberal but in a way its stuck in its ways. Will it ever change? I don’t know.

  12. Agreed, Gemini. Having adequate power behind the scenes may ensure diversity in models on the runway, diversity that will last rather than just being a temporary fad.

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