How Diverse Were New York Fashion Week's S/S 2018 Runways?

Every runway show during New York Fashion Week included at least two models of color, per TheFashionSpot’s bi-annual runway diversity report, a first in the history of NYFW. According to the fashion site, “While diverse representation in fashion is far from where it should be, there’s no doubt it’s on the rise.”

Per TFS, “Spring 2018 was the most racially diverse New York Fashion Week in recent history. After examining 94 major New York shows and tallying 2,601 runway appearances, we found that 63.1 percent of castings were white and 36.9 percent were nonwhite. This is the first time that nonwhite models have accounted for this large of a percentage.”

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A few other key takeaways: Of the top 11 models who walked in the most shows during NYFW, four were women of color: "Chinese model He Cong, indigenous Australian model Charlee Fraser,  Brazilian model Aira Ferreira and Korean model Sora Choi." Over half the models (55 percent) that walked in Marc Jacobs’ headscarf-heavy-show were women of color — which, per TFS, "is perhaps how [Jacobs] (generally) avoided accusations of cultural appropriation." 

For the first time ever at New York Fashion Week, “a whopping 90 plus-size models walk the runway — in other words, 3.46 percent. Considering the numbers seen in previous seasons — 26 models in Fall 2017, 16 in Spring 2017 and just 4 in Fall 2016 — this is an immense improvement.” In terms of age, “Women over age 50 were better represented on the Spring 2018 runways than any season prior.”

And when it comes to transgender/non-binary models, this season, “there were 31 transgender women and non-binary model appearances (28 transgender, 3 non-binary) across 29 runways, many of them high-profile shows.”

Despite such remarkable improvements across the board, not every brand is pushing boundaries. As noted by TFS, “Several New York designers continue to lag behind on the diversity front. Per usual, The Row and A Détacher fell to the bottom of the pile. Three of the 30 models at The Row were women of color, a 3 percent dip from its Fall 2017 show, which was 13 percent racially diverse. (But still preferable to Spring 2017, when the brand featured zero models of color.)”

And there is still work to be done, TFS cited the Washington Post fashion critic Robin Givhan in stating, “We need to get to a point at which inclusiveness feels organic. And IS organic. That we get to a point where the shows feel like they are speaking to the wide range of consumers, but without turning the runway into some kind of human assembly line in which one-of-each [or, in this case, two-of-each] is the standard.”