Self Expression or Suppression: Cultural Diversity in Fashion
Runway shows, glamorous clothes & supermodels are what most people see think of relating to the fashion industry. This imagery presents a distorted view of beauty and doesnʼt represent the world we live in. This is a prevalent issue on the runway since 82% of the models in this past New York fashion week were Caucasian. This has become such as issue that models Naomi Campbell & Iman have started a campaign called the “Diversity Coalition” to end racism on the runways. Other examples include Oprah being denied a $35,000 bag and the “Disco Africa” themed Halloween party thrown this year that was attended by top industry professionals. This is an issue that runs deep at all levels of the industry; making front page news at every turn. The business needs to change; not only to benefit the end consumer but to help all levels involved.
Although the affair has deep roots, strides are being made in a variety of forms. For Fall/ Winter 2013, Gap used Sikh actor, Waris Ahluwahlia, next to model Quentin Jones for their “Make Love” campaign. American designer, Rick Owens, turned the fashion world upside down by using a step team from Atlanta to show his new line in Paris. While brands such as Givenchy, DSquared, Burberry & Tom Ford have used models from a variety of races in recent campaigns. Although these are baby steps towards the goal of equality these are strides in the right direction.
Whether you work in the field or just care about your wardrobe, the question you might be asking by now is ‘so what?’ This is a serious issue not only for the consumer but for the retailers as well. With China set to become the biggest retail destination in the world and India coming next, brands need to think of their consumer on a global basis and in doing so advertise to more than just Caucasian customers.
To market to a global customer, marketing, advertising, events, etc. ALL need to be culturally diverse and on more than one occasion. While fashion is supposed to be about self-expression, itʼs ironic how the majority of the world doesnʼt have multiple people of the same culture representing them on the scene. What was a major issue in 2013 can change in the new year by companies embracing the global market; representing cultural diversity.