From Leomie Anderson to Adut Akech Bior, nowadays many women of colour are representing luxury brand campaigns and strut on runways of the world’s most sort after designs. Nevertheless, this was not always the case for BAME people due to stereotyping in advertising from the ’70s and beyond. Black and Asian women were less likely to be selected for the runway as having a woman of Caucasian features and light skin was seen as the most beautiful form womanhood and racially minoritised models who did not fit this cookie cutter mould experienced the prejudice and feeling of not being enough. The fashion industry has come a long since, as girls like Australia’s Duckie Thot of South Sudanese parents are represented by the biggest names like Fenty x Puma, Balmain, and Moschino. However, is casting women of colour a trend for the hottest looks? Or is this an indicator of growth within the industry and how far the world has come internationally?
It is truly “refreshing” to see darker skinned models on the runway. Some might say that these women are being cast as they what’s currently hot. However, there is countless evidence particularly through social media of the growth in our mindset as a people in reclaiming a voice taken away from different women. Photographers like Maisie Cousins and Petra Collins embrace the female gaze, telling the females story for the female viewer. They challenge social norms and the male gaze, coined by Laura Mulvey who highlights how classic Hollywood cinema objectifies the female body making them appear desirable to the male viewer. These photographers prove that this is changing.
In addition to this, with the growth of hyper-connectivity through social media, many generation Z (children born between the early1990s to mid-2000s) placing an emphasis on realness and activism for topics that truly matter to them. With the popularity of social media influencers on Twitter and Instagram fashion and activism is becoming intertwined and the fashion industry is becoming awakened.
To summarise, the fashion industry is not known for its ethics and equality. With its numerous issues in pollution, representation, unhealthy body image representation, it is easy to understand why the cynics perceive fashion as superficial and vain. Yet, the well-informed reader like you and I, know that fashion is art and beauty that transcends being just material goods but is a language and a reflection of the state of the world around us. Clothing and fashion allow us to express our personality with details of our outfit choices. The men and women chosen to represent aspiration clothing brands is a powerful message on how the perception of beauty is changing. It is critical that authority figures in the industry embrace women of different sizes and races to be truly representative of the population.
Written by Cidella Brown