Fashion & Design‘Mixed’ Feelings

‘Mixed’ Feelings

A recent study revealed what we’ve known all along: a whopping 78% of models in the Spring 2016 season were caucasion. This isn’t a new revelation: Since the dawn of the industry, fashion has lacked diversity both on and off the runway. With new awareness being generated on social media, a new light is shining on the issue being brought to light now.

I’m what they call ‘racially ambiguous’ and fall in the “other” category, making up just 5.7% of the population in Canada. Rarely is my type seen on the runway. To get some insider insight, I spoke with model of colour, Eden Debebe, represented by Elmer Olsen. Debebe has worked for Canadian Label, Greta Constantine.

She shared her thoughts: “The casting process is definitely different [as a diverse model]. You don’t go to the same casting calls as everyone else, and you leave knowing that they’ll only need one or two women of colour to show the brands’ ‘diversity’.”


Debebe in Greta Constantine.

Let’s rewind to Spring 2016. Bella Hadid stormed the catwalk to Beyoncé’s “Formation with a gaggle of purely Caucasian models.


Bella Hadid walking for Misha Collection.

Seems like an elevator-level oversight, to say the least. Bey, what do you think?


Season after season, look books continue to represent narrow definitions of the standard of beauty. Without naming names, many brands represent a purely (or mostly) Caucasian aesthetic.

The marginalization doesn’t just pertain to skin colour: there is a distinct lack of plus-sized and transgender women in the fashion realm. According to Canadian publication, ‘The Fashion Spot’, plus-size women represented 0.1%, while trans-women accounted for just 0.6% in the Spring 2016 season.



Debebe goes on to say, “The statistics don’t surprise me or anyone else who works in the industry. It’s kind of an accepted fact that women of colour are the minority when it comes to booking shows… if a designer is feeling a Siberian-snow-world with ice white hair and pale skin for their show, who am I to say no?”

According to a 2016 report by The Fashion Spot, the Fall 2016 Runways were less than 25 percent diverse. The most noteworthy designer of the season is Kanye West, who featured 100% models of colour on the runway. Zac Posen finishes at a close second, featuring 87% models of colour on his runway as part of his Black Models Matter campaign. And a special shout out goes to New-York based label, Chromat, for including two plus-sized models, and seriously hot-like-the-sun women in their latest 2016 Spring show.


The Yeezy Season 3 New York Fashion Week.

Untitled design

Zac Posen Spring 2016.

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Chromatic Spring 2016.

Riccardo Tisci, designer for Givenchy and avid supporter of diversity, told I-D:

“What’s important, especially when you’re a designer or somebody public, is that you can really support people who are not accepted by society. At times, we’re supporting people who society pushes, and sometimes society is such a bitch that it’s pushing people for no reason. For me, beauty is much more than that. It’s deeper. I took so much shit when I supported transgender people, or diversity, or anti-racism.”

We salute change-makers like Tisci, Posen, and others. Say what you will about Kanye West, but Yeezy Season 3 has cast the most diverse presentation to date (100% models of colour). Whether you approve of him or not, his casting methods speak to progress, and are challenging fashion industry norms.

On that note, catch me in a Life of Pablo tee.


(Photo credit:

Amanda is a fashion intern at FLARE Magazine and freelance writer. This slightly confused Virgo prefers to live in the year 2006. Unless it’s Ja Rule, The O. C. or Von Dutch, don’t even bother.

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