Is 2016 the Year That Fashion Finally Embraced Diversity? – The Daily Beast

I don’t follow the fashion press but this analysis is both interesting and revealing, particularly the contrast between different publications:

2016 is shaping up to be the most diverse year yet for the fashion industry, according to a new report tracking racial representation on glossy magazine covers.

Released Wednesday by the Fashion Spot, a 70,000 invitation-only community of industry insiders, the annual report found that more women of color were featured on glossy covers this year than the past three years (the Fashion Spot began conducting its annual report in 2013).

The report tracked 679 cover appearances from 48 top international fashion publications and found that 29 percent (197 covers) featured nonwhite women. Fashion runways have become increasingly diverse as well, suggesting a shift in the industry at large.

In October, the Fashion Spot’s biannual report gauging diversity on the catwalk found that 25.4 percent of nonwhite models walked the runway during Spring 2017 fashion week in New York, Milan, Paris, and London, making this season the most diverse in history.

New York had the most models of color (30.3 percent) this year, while Milan scored the lowest points for diversity on the runway (20.9 percent).

That glossy magazine covers are featuring more women of color coincides with a larger cultural demand for more diversity in the entertainment industry, particularly in Hollywood and on network television.

Last year, some of Hollywood’s most famous black actors called for a boycott of the Academy Awards when it was revealed that—for the first time in two decades—every single acting nominee was white.

The #OscarsSoWhite hashtag began trending with the controversy, prompting the Academy to announce an initiative promising greater diversity in its future voting body.

Actresses and entertainers make up a large percentage of fashion magazine cover models, and stars like Beyoncé, Zendaya, and Rihanna are regulars on top glossy covers. While the Fashion Spot has no data on how covers showing women of color affect sales of magazines, it’s clear that famous women of color—Beyoncé, Rihanna, and Michelle Obama, to name a few popular cover stars—sell.

Still, the only nonwhite woman in the report’s list of top 10 cover models this year was actress Lupita Nyong’o, who graced five covers. By contrast, top model Gigi Hadid snagged 14 covers, while her Instagram-famous peer Kendall Jenner and sister Bella Hadid landed 10 and 8 covers respectively.

“I think nonwhite actresses are seen as a ‘safer’ bet over traditional models of color in terms of sales,” Jennifer Davidson, the Fashion Spot’s editor in chief, told The Daily Beast, noting that Zendaya, Zoe Kravitz, Selena Gomez, Jessica Alba, Rihanna, and Beyoncé were “more likely to earn multiple cover appearances” than models of color.

Among the worst diversity offenders were Harper’s BazaarLoveMarie Claire U.K., PorterVogue Germany, Vogue Netherlands, Vogue Paris, and Vogue Russia (all failed to feature a single woman of color on their covers this year).

I-DInStylePaperTeen VogueVogue India, Vogue Korea, and Vogue Taiwan had the most racially diverse cover stars, though the fact that Vogue Indian, Korea, and Taiwan featured nonwhite models is likely owed to their buying demographic’s predominantly nonwhite ethnicities rather than a conscious effort to be more diverse.

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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