“There was a turning point where you had many girls working at once, and it looked like things were going to change; we all had high hopes. But then things regressed. Now it seems like all that hard work we did has not changed anything. It’s really hard to wake up in 2007 and accept that we shouldn’t push the door open again. We can’t shut our mouths any longer.”–Naomi Campbell

Hey readers,
So Kenya Hunt, an editor for New York Metro, wrote a huge article yesterday on the dearth of ethnic models on the catwalk. She says, “While browsing through the women’s boards of the top New York agencies listed on Models.com, few represented more than two black, Latina or Asian models. South Asian women were represented by exactly one model, Ujjwala at IMG, while some agencies such as Supreme management had rosters that were entirely white.”
Inspired, I decided that this time around, I’d pay attention to exactly how many ethnic models I saw strutting down the runway. Is there truth to the rumor?
Last night my homie Shameek and I hit up the Nicole Miller and LAMB shows.
I love Nicole Miller’s clothes; it seemed that drab beige is her pick for spring…


…though she jazzed it up with splashes of celery/citron and paisley.

While her clothes were elegant, she only had one black model…

And Shameek noted that she was skinnier than the rest. Are stakes so high that ethnic models have to be twice as skinny to walk the runway???
Next up was LAMB, which was a ZOO. Diddy was sitting front row. I tried to get a picture, but was soooo far away that my picture is indeed laughable…

Shameek and I both loved LAMB’s avant garde meets streetwear vibe. Gwen’s show featured jackets, dresses, and separates in patterns like plaids…

…and herringbone….

…but this time around, she really represented with two models of color…

…Chanel Iman being one of them.
Hmm…not sure how shocked I should be. Are we at the point now where we accept discrimination and don’t say anything about it? Is this a non-issue?
At any rate, it’s going to be an interesting Fashion Week if my focus is on ethnic models. Hopefully there’ll be something to cover!
PS Of course, I’m going to give you Real Style from the Tents every day! My pic today is of Shawn Wright and Randal Jacobs…

…writers for the site www.fashionwindows.com. Their look is very 80’s…from Shawn’s large Moschino bag and glasses to Randals collared preppy shirt, sweater, and cutoffs.
So, what do you think? Are they FaB (Fashion Bomb)?

19 thoughts on “Where are the Ethnic Models? + Real Style”

  1. I think it would be interesting to do an expose piece to see who this is so…a few yrs back it was all about being the dark and ethnic model because they were like a canvas that could be turned into anything…it would be very interesting to know exactly why there is always this ‘ebb&flow’ effect when it comes to Blk models…
    LAMB show looked hot…just dont think that i can feed into the madness that is paying all that money for her stuff…

  2. Good post!!! I think it is great that you have decided to take a closer look at the racial divide in modeling.

  3. Claire, if you’re going to put guys in real style, maybe it should feature men who dress like men. No man should look fabulous. So don’t perpetuate that myth by featuring guys like that, because there are men who do read your site and who want to be fashionable, but they don’t look like that. If anything, the men you feature should look dashing, handsome, poised, and most importantly, like men.

  4. The LAMB show looked hot, I really like the herring bone outfit (wish I could afford it)! Everyone should feel free to express their personal style. The guy with the big Moschino had a little too much going on with his look though. Too many color and trends for me. The bag would have looked better with a basic black outfit. The one in the pink looks fabulous to me! I’m not hatin!


  5. Sweaty armpit stains are never cute and I agree with what Huey P. Langston had to say about featuring men in your blog. Just out of curiosity, how many ethnic models were in the Baby Phat show?

  6. @ huey p. langston- wow, what an ignorant, disrespectful (to the men in the pic), and myopic statement. maybe nearly as infuriating and IMBECILIC as the school of thought that ethnic models are incapable of selling products as well as white models, WHICH IS THE TRUE TOPIC AT HAND, so where do you even get off tying to foist your closed-minded ideas onto claire? well let me be the one to inform you, a man doesn’t have to be masculine to be a man, nor does a woman have to be feminine to be a woman. you OBVIOUSLY have limited knowledge of gender politics, so why don’t you go out and learn something.

    anyway, i’m cognizant of and way past weary about the derth of (working) black models in the fashion and beauty industries. its infuriating that our inherent beauty goes unrecognized and the dollars that we spend are unacknowledged. claire, as a woman with locs, what do you think about the story of the glamour editor stating that locs and afros were inappropriate for the office and were “political” hairstyles?

  7. Uhmm…is it just me or does the sweaty armpit man have on a cut-off skirt? Extremely unrealistic attire. So not FaB!

  8. From the first time I saw pics of the L.A.M.B. collection, I knew it was the hotness. Gwen really did a great job this season. Moving on. I think it’s utterly ridiculous that model agencies and designers are simply refusing to put black models in their shows. Because we know Chanel Iman is not the only bankable ‘ethnic’ model.

  9. It is not at all surprising to hear that racism still manages to seep into every industry, whether it’s music, fashion, politics or business. I think the answer to the problem is an age-old one, which is just to simply support our own. We should push for more Black designers, and for them to be more diverse (because I, for one, do not look good in Baby Phat or Rocawear).

    For the Real Style. Those brothas were not hittin. Especially with the sweaty pits, and to the person who replied before me, it does look like he has a cut off skirt on!!! The way I see it with gay men and fashion..if it seems questionable for any woman of any size, shape or form to have on, then it’s probably not a good look for man to be wearing it either.

    As for Huey P. I would try being more suggestive instead of barking commands. If the men’s fashion isn’t to your liking, perhaps you should look elsewhere. It’s not your blog. If you want men to be featured in your ideal fashionable menswear, my “suggestion” is that you start your own blog that does.

  10. Very nice post Claire, your my idol! I think it is great that you have decided to take a closer look at how many ethnic models actually model during Fashion Week. About being so used to discrimination that we just stay silent, I am basically at that point. I live in the #1 segregated city in America, so I deal with racial discrimination on a daily, unfortunetely the only time I’m surprised is when it doesn’t happen. I’ve come to the conclusion that this is just the way it’s going to be.

  11. I think it would make your fashion week blogs a lot more interesting to stay on this “twist” of minority models. I knew it was bad, but didn’t realize catwalk models of color were practically nonexistent! Very very sad.

  12. I think there are a few things that factor into the dearth of ethnic models. One is selection — if the agencies don’t have any to hire then the designers never really get a choice. However, if designers started demanding more ethnic models, agencies will be forced to shift focus to satisfy demand. It goes both ways. Second is body type. Yes there are some tall naturally thin sistas out there, but the majority of us have more breasts, booty, and thighs than the average model type – regardless of weight. And designers choose models based on how well they show the clothes — i.e how little their bodies interfere with the “look”. I think this is why you see more ethnic models in print campaigns, catalogs, and commercials than on the runway. Third – I think some of the model representation is based on the consumer best able to afford these items. The majority of super rich people ( who AREN’T celebrities) who’re dropping thousands on an outfit or hot bag are upper class white Americans. The models are a thinner, prettier version of them, which subtly suggests that buying whatever the thinner prettier you is wearing will in turn make you prettier and thinner as well. You see more ethnic models in campaigns geared towards ethnic consumers i.e. Baby Phat because the consumer needs to be able to imagine themselves in the clothes.

  13. @ huey, your comment was pretty ignorant MAN. WHAT is a man supposed to look like? Let me guess, pants hangin down their asses, timbs? OR white tees and sneaks? Man give me a break. I personally know a lot of MEN who do dress like that and who also read this site so you can put your bigotry and regression BACK THERE! Thank God for Prince.

  14. @ huey… umm… i think there should be a feature on men who are fashionable and dress like men… cuz i wouldn’t talk to a men dressed like that… ri-damn-diculous…

    moving on… Claire! I’m glad you did this post.. I was looking thru trying to find models of color for one of my posts… Found some asians… Hye Park and Du Juan being a fav. Glad you’re doing this research.. let us know how it turns out

  15. First, great blog Claire. You’re the best.

    Now, I have to agree with Huey in the sense that I would love to see more masculine looks featured on our men. Although these guys were trying to sport the “out of the box” look. They failed miserably. They looked tacky and queeney. I would love to see more dashing cutting edge masculine styles with plenty of funkiness. But I’ll pass on the tackiness and overly feminine styles of certain men.

  16. I think the fashion world as in the Runway in Europe,Asia,Canada, and the USA sucks From Magazines to the designer’ss choices of models.
    What is wrong with black models and what’s the difference between a Light light white models and plain white models against black models.I read an article from Vogue talking about how there is less black models in the runway and in front of vogue magazines and designer of photographer tries say that black models stand out more and has more personality that blocks out or make the designers garments disappear from the runway because everyone is paying attention to the model instead of the garment they are put in.I think this such a false statement because a very pale model can stand out too not only a black model and i thought the art of being a model is to have your own personality and bring the designer’s work to life and not make it look so dead that normal people who want exactment and buys ticket to watch a fashion show to see action and the designers artistic view only sees the same model over and over being dead and poor and plus that I thought the Runway suppose to be the bring through for racism and enthic and creation but to me it seems like it again the same as the rest of the word.Please bring back the 90’s where models had personality and different colour of models.

    I went to a Canada Fashion which is the L’oral fashion week and all i saw was the same black girls doing runway and the rest are all white models each show showed 1 black model .Which leave me with this Question WHAT’S WRONG WITH THE DESIGNERS AND SO CALLED FASHION INSIDERS AND MAGAZINE SUCH AS VOGUE ,INFASHION,STYLE ANY EUROPEAN AND AMERICAN KNOWN MAGAZINE?I am a black inpiring model and when I go online to find a model to inpire me all i can see is white boring models and chanel iman to inspire me but her style is not what i am looking for…if confusing.

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