Reports from the fashionspot.com and nytimes.com have shown that the fall season of 2021 is the most racially diverse fashion season on record, however it plunges when it comes to age, gender and size.
The observation from fashionspot.com is based on 168 shows from Paris, Milan, New York and London. These shows had 1641 castings in which a little over 43% went to models of color. The representation is still mostly white, but those 43 percent non-white models, are almost a 2 percent increase from last season this spring 2021. However, nytimes.com urges that numbers only tell one part of the story — the other part is the human experiences — which is a crucial part when it comes to measuring change. Racial progress requires real transparency and vulnerability, but also by choosing accuracy over opaqueness, that is a key part of creating trust.
Looking back, Spring 2020 was previously the most diverse season ever with its 41.5 percent models of color out of a total of 7,390 model castings at 215 major shows. Considering that the Fall season 2021 included fewer shows and castings, it is all the more heartening and mainstream to see a larger racial diversity reach a new milestone.
While positive news regarding the increased racial diversity, size diversity was hit hard this season. There were only 19 plus-size model castings, only making up 1.16% of all castings this season. The season also showed a significant drop in gender diversity, where it was just 12 castings (0,73%) out of all castings. That figure is a long way down compared to Spring 2021’s 20 castings and Fall 2020´s 20. A little over half of the appearances went to models of color. Age diversity also plummeted. Fall 2021 boasted 16 over-50 model appearances or 0.98 percent. That’s a high drop of 50% from Spring 2021’s 32 castings.
This seasons diversity numbers may seams a little weak, and part of the problem is that some brands don´t share numbers or wont. Others don’t collect numbers in the first place. Still others say it’s out of their control.
For instance, many of the Black-owned brands that have been in the fashion spotlight over the last six months, such as Christopher John Rogers, were not surveyed because of their size of their brand. That these businesses were still relatively small was revealing, reflecting the historic lack of support from backers and retailers. In closing, the pandemic definitely continues to impact the industry. The fashion industry is in the middle of rapid and chaotic changes, brought on by the coronavirus pandemic. The easiest way to make a company more diverse is to hire a wider spectrum of people. But in the last year, many brands had shrunk their employee base. So, instead of growing their employee base, they were contracting.
But the pandemic shouldn’t be seen as a justification for brands to hire less diverse casts or not to value a smaller brands statistics. While it’s incredible that Fall 2021 is now the most racially diverse on record, we can’t ignore the losses felt across the size, age and gender categories. Moving forward, we hope to see substantial upticks across all fields.