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Brief Published: 25 Oct 2018

Diversity Makes History on the S/S 19 Catwalks

L-R: Louis Vuitton, Prabal Gurung, Christian Siriano, Pyer Moss, Valentino

New York Fashion Week (NYFW) led from the front this season, with its omni-inclusive casting making S/S 19 the most diverse catwalk season yet. A number of brands and designers also worked to make inclusivity their calling card, moving away from the tokenism of seasons past and embracing diversity across the board.

Fashion industry forum The Fashion Spot’s biannual diversity report noted significant increases in diversity across every fashion city, with racial representation experiencing the steepest rise. Across 229 shows, 36.1% of 7,431 castings went to models of colour – a 3.6% increase since last season, and a huge improvement on the 17% of S/S 15.

New York Fashion Week (NYFW) maintained its reputation as the most racially diverse fashion city, with 44.8% models of colour. Additionally, every show at NYFW included at least one non-white model, and the most inclusive – Pyer Moss and Claudia Li – featured entirely non-white line-ups.

Size inclusivity practically doubled this season, with a total of 54 plus-size models appearing in 15 shows across every city. Despite huge progress, Europe has been surprisingly slow on the uptake – particularly London, with the city known for experimentation featuring just one plus-size model across all shows. 

The catwalks took a more egalitarian stance on non-binary and gender inclusivity however, with 91 castings across every city going to transgender or non-binary models.

Age diversity remains low despite marginal improvements, with women aged 50 and over still greatly under-represented compared to their spending power. Despite influential designers in Europe accounting for more than half of these mature model castings, representation typically remained tied to one show in each city.

As relentlessly highlighted by consumers and inclusive organisations alike, diversity is a necessity that is not going away. For the latest on how to sympathetically and effectively engage with inclusivity, see A Fashion A’woke’ning: Mainstreaming Diversity.