While the overall landscape of the fashion industry clung quite tightly to the norms of yore this year, 2015 did supply a few moments of diversity that made us optimistic and expectant for inclusion for black women: Beyoncé becoming the third woman to cover the always epic September issue of Vogue, Jourdan Dunn gracing the cover of Vogue UK solo — which hadn’t been done by a model of color for 12 years! — and three up-and-coming models on the front of Teen Vogue’s August issue, including one of the year’s top models, Lineisy Montero. But why isn’t diversity growing by leaps and bounds and reflecting the faces and ethnicities of the world’s fashion-loving population?
“This is still a slightly taboo subject,” says celebrity stylist Law Roach, whose clients include Zendaya Coleman, Ruby Rose, and Willow Shields. “We’re still living in a time in this industry where you’ll hear ‘We’re not using any more black girls.’ We’re unfortunately still there and fashion is very fickle. Trends are the main focus, and those fads speak for every facet of the industry — not just colors and silhouettes, but what’s of the moment when it comes to how models look on the runway.”
That’s exactly what icon and pioneer Bethann Hardison is working on day-in and day-out. Roach mentioned her ongoing and hard fight to make fashion the true reflection of those who love it and support it around the world. He also acknowledged supermodels Iman and Naomi Campbell for joining the push with Hardison and keeping the conversation moving forward, but had to pause to think of other pioneers who made diversity their aim this year. “The fact that I even had to think about it shows that we’ve gone far, but still have so much more to do.”
Brandice Daniel, founder of Harlem’s Fashion Row, which discovers and showcases emerging talent of color, has a few people in mind. “This year has been great for multicultural designers in fashion such as Harbison, Azede Jean-Pierre, LaQuan Smith, and Brother Vellies,” he says. Harbison has been worn on multiple occasions by Beyoncé and Solange Knowles, who have the power to catapult any brand into veritable stardom. The Kardashian and Jenner siblings have worn plenty of LaQuan Smith, and Brother Vellies took home the 2015 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award. read more