Why Greater Representation Cannot Be a Passing Trend
In a response to increasing demand for increased diversity on the catwalks and in the fashion magazines/campaigns, the African model market is opening up, re-writing the original 'normal girl to supermodel' success stories from Eastern Europe and Russia.
"Diversity is not just about putting a famous black model who has a US passport on a magazine cover; it’s about deeper change.": Ingrid Tamborin
In 2019 Autumn/Winter shows, it's clear to see the change from four years ago (SS2015), with 38.5% of models walking in fashion shows in Paris, London, Milan and New York being women of colour. Alongside the success stories such as Janet Jumbo - the first Nigerian model to walk for Louis Vuitton -, Ajuma Nasenyana and Alek Wek, the fashion industry is consistently featuring and celebrating names from colour decent.
Arguments say these African castings are simply a trend, just like the Eastern model castings in previous years, a simple fad that can pass over in time. However, in my opinion I believe the time for change has never been so strong, so influential and so dynamic. With the gifts that social media has provided, the rise of diversity/inclusivity is the most prominent it has ever been.
For instance, one of my favourite models at the moment is Winnie Harlow - an Canadian fashion model, and public spokesperson on the skin condition Vitiligo - and the way she represents her 'tribe' of followers and supporters; consistently spreading her messages of love, learning and acceptance is inspirational. She recently featured on the cover of Vogue alongside Shahadas Salman and walked in the 2018 Victoria Secret show, the first model ever with Vertiligo to walk that runway. Honestly (sadly) this is not something you would of seen 50 years ago.
The rate of success stories are still growing, but without difficulties. Models still tell accounts of being treated like they're not enough, being stereotyped into the group 'black model, same face, nothing special' and discrimination beyond imagine.
This is something that needs to change, which is happening at a rate, but is that rate fast enough? I guess only time will tell, stay tuned....