If it felt like the London Fashion Week runways were more diverse than before, it’s because they were, according to a new report.
The Fashion Spot’s Diversity Report analysed the model make-up of 241 shows and 7035 model castings from London, New York, Paris and Milan during the Autumn/Winter 17 shows, concluding that “more women of colour walked the runway than ever before”.
London recorded the greatest change of all four cities for age diversity. Every city saw at least two models over the age of 50 walk the runway, but London saw a significant increase with seven.
The Big Smoke again saw the greatest improvement in its racial diversity score with an increase of 4.9% from last season.
“London’s bump in both aged and nonwhite model castings is evidence of U.K.-based designers’ desire to address the nation’s current sociopolitical climate,” noted The Fashion Spot.
“After all, the week began with an anti-age discrimination protest staged by older models outside of The Strand, a popular show venue.”
Nearly every city had its most diverse season to date – except New York, which always receives a relatively high score.
More than a quarter (27.9%) of the models who walked the Autumn/Winter 2017 runways were “models of colour”. 12 transgender models and 21 women aged 50 or older also took to the catwalks.
The report defines “models of colour” as those who appear to be nonwhite or of mixed backgrounds.
Thirty plus-size models took to the catwalks – an increase of 16 from last season – though most of the appearances were in New York.
Speaking to The Huffington Post UK after walking the runway for the Ashish show on Thursday 23 February during LFW, model Leomie Anderson commented on the change:
“Honestly it made me smile so much to see more women of colour represented within all of the fashion weeks not just London,” she said.
“I’m so happy that you get to see a lot more natural hair on the runways as well.
“Because when I first started modelling, girls who had even the slightest curl were straightening their hair every single day.
“They wouldn’t even go to castings with their hair curly.
“So it’s lovely for me to see all different hair types, all different skin tones and all different ethnicities represented on the runways.”
Kelly Knox, a model and co-founder of Diversity Not Disability, who walked the runway for Teatum Jones in February 2017, commented:
“Diversity enriches, strengthens and builds,” she told The Huffington Post UK.
“For the evolution of fashion, diversity must be celebrated and embraced. Beauty is not one dimensional and it makes me feel so happy to see diverse beauty owning the runway.”
However, while there has been an increase in diversity, there is still room for much improvement.
Speaking to The Fashion Spot, The Model Alliance’s Sara Ziff warned:
“We’re still seeing tokenism and we’re not yet seeing widespread acceptance of models across categories — models of various sizes, ages, races and gender identities.”
Anderson also added a cautionary note for the future:
“Yes this season has been very diverse, but it’s a matter now of consistency and also seeing it reflected within other areas of the industry,” she said.