The Most Diverse Fashion Season Ever on the Runway, but Not the Front Row,
The New York Times
“Spring 2019 was the most racially diverse season ever,” said Jennifer Davidson, the editor in chief of The Fashion Spot, an online editorial platform that has been tracking runway diversity counts on race since September 2014, and on size, gender identification and age since September 2015. This was true in every city, with models of color in New York reaching almost 50 percent.
Most of the attention on diversity in fashion has been focused on the way its image is communicated to the outside world — hence the obsessive tracking of models. Ms. Davidson, of The Fashion Spot, said that the site had decided to do the diversity reports to “look at it through a consumer’s eye, and focus on how brands represent themselves and who they choose to represent. If I’m a consumer, do I see myself on this runway?”
Though it may be a natural conclusion that once you change the top, the bottom will follow — that there will be a trickle-down effect — Ms. Davidson cautions against any such assumption. “There were Asian designers in New York who had the least diverse runways,” she said. “You’d think being in a minority would make you more sensitive to representing the breadth of the population, but our data does not support that.”
“It’s hard to fathom why European cities are so slow to embrace plus-size models,” the Fashion Spot editor-in-chief Jennifer Davidson said in an interview. “However, only 15 shows total featured plus models, so it still remains an industry-wide issue — including in New York.”
Does Davidson think these gains can sustain or, as some fear, might these numbers eventually begin to plateau? “I’d like to think the upward trends we’ve been seeing are sustainable,” she said. “We can always do better. There are still only a handful of designers that make across-the-board inclusion a priority, so we have a long way to go before we’d need to worry about the numbers leveling off.”
“I’m optimistic about this season’s results and am pleased to see more New York designers making strides toward genuine diversity than ever before,” the Fashion Spot’s editor-in-chief Jennifer Davidson said in an interview.
“This was by far the biggest jump we’ve seen in years,” Davidson said.
“That being said, there is still a lot of room for growth in this category,” Davidson notes.
“I continue to be surprised that brands aren’t embracing the curve customer,” Jennifer Davidson, the editor-in-chief of the Fashion Spot, said in an email. “Not only does it make sense from a business standpoint, since they comprise such a large percentage of the market, but it makes sense from a social standpoint. The body-positive movement continues to gain steam and it’s clear that women of all sizes want to be recognized and represented. By continuously excluding plus-size women from campaigns and runways, brands are sending a message that they don’t care about them as customers.”
“Next season, I hope to see brands truly embrace the spectrum of women that buy their clothes,” Davidson said. “That includes women of all sizes, ages
“The stagnation in our racial diversity numbers, the losses in the plus-size and age categories, the infinitesimal growth in the number of transgender runway models reveal that the industry isn’t transforming as quickly as last season’s numbers seemed to indicate,” the report states. “More designers need to get on board and share the happy burden of progress.”
Jennifer Davidson, editor in chief of The Fashion Spot, said she was particularly disappointed by the decrease of plus-size representation, and the inability for designers aside from Christian Siriano and Chromat to embrace women with curves on the runway. Following a record showing in September of 34 plus-size women on nine runways, last week only 26 plus-size models walked in eight shows, dropping to a total of 1.1 percent of castings.
“This is one area that we were hoping would improve, but it seems that it’s the same designers embracing size diversity every season, with no new designers getting on board. It’s clear the fashion industry still has a long way to go,” she said.
Nowhere is this focus as evident as in the The Fashion Spot’s magazine forums, where a large community of fashion-obsessed readers meticulously analyze a myriad of magazine covers each month. “[The Fashion Spot] forum members are obsessed with magazine covers — and highly critical of them,” writes Jennifer Davidson, the site’s editor-in-chief, in an email. “For many, the cover sets the tone for the content inside. A creative or boundary-breaking cover entices readers to see what else the issue has to offer. Likewise, a lackluster cover doesn’t bode well for the rest of the editorial.” This same viewpoint can be applied to print consumers, where the right cover can make or break a single-issue purchase.
While media brands utilize digital covers in ways that are similar to its print predecessors, some characteristics can stand to have a unique approach for online. “Digital covers are often an opportunity for publications to be adventurous and take more risks than they would with a newsstand cover,” says Davidson. “There’s no need to bog down a digital cover with a lot of text, which allows for more creativity when selecting images. They can also use digital-only gimmicks, like moving images, to add interest to a cover.” Davidson adds that Net-a-Porter’s Porter is one magazine that does well with The Fashion Spot’s readers for its digital-only covers (like its Fall 2017 cover featuring “Game of Thrones”‘ Sophie Turner) despite also having a print edition.
While a wide range of factors contributed to the increase, Jennifer Davidson, editor of The Fashion Spot, said the demand for inclusivity from consumers, driven largely by social media, has played a pivotal role in transforming an industry long known for its abundance of thin, white, young and cisgendered models.
“Social media and societal attitudes have contributed to this shift, as more consumers demand representation and social movements surrounding body-positivity, transgender visibility and anti-ageism gain steam,” Davidson said.
Despite the increase in racial diversity, Davidson said she was disappointed by the lack of plus-size women featured on covers in 2017. According to the report, only 1 percent of the 782 covers examined featured plus-size women. While Davidson hopes chatter around plus-size fashion will continue into 2018, she noted stalled progress in this particular sector, despite the rise of icons like Ashley Graham. (Though Graham’s star has been on the rise — she was on five of the eight covers with women over size 12 — few other plus-size models have been able to find similar success.)
“The year started off strong with Ashley Graham’s cover of Vogue UK, but it didn’t prove to be the year of the curve model, as we had hoped,” she said. “ I am hopeful we’ll see more plus-size women on the runways and in print this year. From purely a business perspective, I’m constantly amazed that brands continue to ignore such a large segment of the population.”
New York has led the cities in embracing diversity for a few seasons now, Jennifer Davidson, editor-in-chief of The Fashion Spot, told HuffPost UK that there increase in diversity cannot be seen as a reaction to Trump.
“There are many factors at play here, including societal changes, vocal cries for diversity, more diverse casting options than ever before, and designers that consistently embrace diversity in many forms,” she said.
Davidson states: “I think size diversity is the next frontier: curve models walking alongside straight-size models on the runway. A few designers (Christian Siriano, Michael Kors, Prabal Gurung, for example) have shown that this can be done successfully and organically.”
Jamaica Puts a Different Face on the Runways, The New York Times
And the beauty standards of the multibillion-dollar fashion industry clung stubbornly to a “traditional ideal of thin, white and young,” as Jennifer Davidson, the editor in chief of the website The Fashion Spot, said.
Has New York Fashion Week Finally Gotten the Memo on Diversity?,
The New York Times
“Every season we’re seeing progress over previous seasons, but not to this extent,” said Jennifer Davidson, the editor in chief of The Fashion Spot, which has compiled diversity reports since the spring 2015 season. “The numbers really jumped this year. Even just a year ago there were plenty of shows that had no models of color.”
“Diversity is really a part of the conversation, not just in fashion, but also in television, movies and any kind of media,” Ms. Davidson said. “Designers can see that there’s a real benefit to inclusion.” And the inverse is true as well. No diversity on your runway? “People aren’t going to tolerate it,” she said.
Ms. Davidson will analyze the shows in London, Milan
Diversity, of All Kinds, Is on the Rise at Fashion Shows, The New York Times
A new report compiled by The Fashion Spot, which assessed 241 shows, found that 27.9 percent of the models who walked the fall 2017 runways were minorities, the highest proportion recorded since The Fashion Spot began tracking the data two and a half years ago.
“I personally don’t think 31.5 percent is enough, but it’s definitely an improvement,” said Jennifer Davidson, the editor in chief of The Fashion Spot, a web publication and forum for fashion insiders.
In its first reports, The Fashion Spot looked only at racial diversity, but it later began assessing size, age and transgender identity as well.
“We kept adding categories as attitudes changed,” Ms. Davidson said. “As more calls for racial diversity started, there were calls also for different sizes. Age and transgender identity haven’t gotten as much visibility, but we thought it was important to highlight those in order to make sure the runways become more representative of the population buying the clothes.”
According to a new study released by theFashionSpot, an online community of fashion insiders that’s been tracking diversity in the industry, there were a few steps in the right direction.
Every major runway had at least one model of color, a first since the group began analyzing the shows six seasons ago.
“There’s some good news coming out of our latest NYFW diversity report,” says editor-in-chief Jennifer Davidson. “At least one woman of color appeared in each of the 116 major runway shows we examined — a first for any of the four major fashion cities (New York, London, Milan and Paris).”
“True diversity and inclusion of all races, body shapes, ages
“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.
“As more transgender women rise to prominence we’ll hopefully see more covers from them as well,” said Davidson, noting that many magazines didn’t distinguish their transgender cover girls from other women. “Even more promising than the number of transgender cover stars this year is the fact that they can be featured without being called out as transgender.”
As for the debate over whether we should do away with the “plus-size” label entirely (Melissa McCarthy has been vocal about her distaste for the term), Davidson defended it as a category.
“I think we should normalize it rather than do away with it,” she said. “The plus-size label helps women when they’re shopping for clothes. What we need are more options for plus-size women, and not relegating the plus-size department to the back of department stores.”