It's no secret that fashion has a racial diversity problem when it comes to runway casting. Fall 2016, like many seasons before it, was punctuated by some relative highs — Zac Posen's choice to hire mostly models of color, for instance — and some steep lows, as when the most-watched designer of the moment, Demna Gvasalia, presented a noticeably whitewashed cast of models at both Vetements and Balenciaga.
Because nothing speaks more clearly than statistics, The Fashion Spot dug through 312 shows in all four cities to quantify how diverse the runways were this February — an examination that extended beyond race to size, age and gender identity. Did casting directors' and designers' work improve? Yes, and no, and not enough.
The Fashion Spot's Jessica Andrews found that in New York, Paris and Milan, the percentage of non-white models cast did increase, with New York leading the way at 31.9 percent and Paris and Milan lagging well behind at 21.9 percent and 19.7 percent, respectively. Those are marginal gains, though: Paris's 21.9 percent was preceded by 19 percent in spring 2016 and 17.3 percent in fall 2015. For all four cities, models of color accounted for just 24.75 percent of all catwalkers — putting white models' presence at 75.25 percent of runway appearances. Compare that to 77.6 percent white models in the spring 2016 season.
London was the only city to slip backward this season. Models of color represented 19.9 percent of castings, compared to 20.9 percent in spring 2016 and 20 percent in fall 2015. Appearances from plus-size, older and transgender models, meanwhile, were sporadic: 6 plus-size women hit the runway for fall 2016, and designers cast 8 transgender models, up from 5 in spring 2016.
So, are things better? Sure, slightly. Do the masterminds producing shows need to do more? Emphatically.
Head over to The Fashion Spot to read this season's diversity report in full.