Is racism back in the industry, or did it never leave?
Back in 2009, Naomi Campbell spoke out about the lack of black women in the industry, stating, “there’s definitely space for more black models but has there been enough effort? It was getting better but it’s slipped back this year.” It seems this cycle Campbell refers to have come back around in 2013.
The British Fashion Council has now received racism claims about the lack of black models on the catwalks and a spokesperson for the Council has responded, clarifying that ”the BFC is committed to model welfare and is more than happy to engage in tackling any issues regarding best practice and diversity at London Fashion Week.”
A significant and definitive point made by the BFC was that “London is one of the most multi-cultural cities in the world and [designers] should consider reflecting this demographic at their shows and presentations…” It’s important to note here that the BFC do not hold model castings for the London Fashion Week shows, but the independent fashion houses and designers.
Jourdan Dunn, one of the most prevalent black models of today, recently tweeted “This industry is NOT a walk in a park for black models and even when you make it they will always make you feel like you should be grateful.” This statement alone, regardless of intent from the industry, highlights the struggle felt even by one of the most dominating models in recent years. It’s odd to think that the fashion industry which is exemplified by cultural influences, with designers such as Carolina Etro, Burberry and Missoni to name a few, embodying these influences in their designs, is held responsible for these racial divisions.
After all, what is London without culture and diversity? It’s this attitude towards the fashion industry, in particular London, which highlights the BFC as an unbiased governing body that has perhaps lost control of the cogs within its industry.
Words: Umika Verma