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London, Milan and Paris Fashion Weeks Had More Models of Color This Season Than Any Previous One

But New York Fashion Week remained the most diverse in terms of race, size and age.
Photo: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images for Fenty Puma

Photo: Kristy Sparow/Getty Images for Fenty Puma

As we reported last month, New York Fashion Week hit a landmark for diversity during its Fall 2017 season; for the first time, every show or presentation included at least one model of color. And while we were — obviously — more than thrilled about these advancements, our optimism about London, Milan and Paris, where diversity is infamously less of a priority, was still cautious. But Fall 2017 did mark an improvement in racial, age and size diversity, as well as transgender visibility, across the board. According to The Fashion Spot's seasonal post-fashion month diversity report, the London, Milan and Paris runways each had more nonwhite models than any previous season. 

As a whole, Fall 2017 featured 27.9 percent models of color among the four cities, an improvement from the 25.4 percent The Fashion Spot reported for Spring 2017. (Of the 12 models who racked up the most runway appearances this season, three were women of color: Selena Forrest, Lineisy Montero and Cong He.) And though London, Milan and Paris did see notable increases in racial diversity, New York — with shows like Gypsy Sport (87 percent models of color), Yeezy (74 percent) and Marc Jacobs (66 percent) — couldn't be beat. 

This season's progress extended beyond racial diversity and into size and age, too: The Fashion Spot noted 30 plus-size model appearances this season, as compared to the 16 in Spring 2017 and six in Fall 2016. The number of models over 50 has also increased, with 21 women over 50 in Fall 2017, versus 13 last season and 11 the season before. Transgender and gender-nonconforming models — including Stav Strashko, Casil McArthur and Vincent Beier — were less represented across New York, London, Milan and Paris, with just 12 (from Spring 2017's 10) cast this season.

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"There were more women of all ages, sizes and ethnicities on the runways than ever before, including high visibility brands like Marc Jacobs and Dolce & Gabbana," The Fashion Spot's Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Davidson said in a release. "Despite the progress, it's clear that white, thin, young, cisgender models are still the ideal for many designers. There's still work to be done."

Three brands — Junya Watanabe, Undercover and Trussardi — inexcusably featured zero nonwhite models, while Chocheng and Comme des Garçons only included six and seven percent nonwhite models, respectively. As the broader industry continues to move in the right direction, here's hoping these designers follow their peers that way, too.

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