The fashion world is keeping stats on runway diversity, but what’s the real goal?

I really don’t get the point of Robin Givhan’s piece. Without numbers, we are left with impressions and anecdotes. What doesn’t get measured doesn’t get managed. Numbers and data are useful tools.

But I have a bias towards evidence and data:

Surely success is when those models are regularly just part of the mix at PradaCélineSaint Laurent and other shows that have far-reaching aesthetic influence and can launch a model into a lucrative advertising contract.

Ideally, diversity should be part of the story-telling and myth-making, not a mathematical equation. All the counting is well-intentioned, but what’s the goal? If it’s to have a runway show more honestly reflect the consumer base of a luxury brand, well, clear the runway for 30-something men of Asian and Middle Eastern descent. Is it to more accurately represent womankind — at least the American version? Then there should be a glut of size 14 models who stand 5-foot-4. But no one is counting the number of short models on the runway (Lady Gaga in the Marc Jacobs show notwithstanding).

We understand that fashion must balance fantasy with the reality of doing business in a diverse world. Those models booked for a runway show are cast to express a unique vision, to make viewers dream. They are, by definition, a rare and lucky lot. They are the chosen.

They should also be a diverse group because they bear the responsibility of embodying a cultural standard.

But as we all become more invested in fashion, there is the temptation to expect that each show should offer a unique representation of every conceivable consumer. To some degree, we are looking to see near mirror-images on the runway. But fashion has a responsibility to reflect the culture, not the individual.

It’s fine to dissect diversity in all its many iterations. The question is whether all those fractions add up to a more welcoming industry or just a growing list of numbers.

Source: The fashion world is keeping stats on runway diversity, but what’s the real goal? | National Post

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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