Brands Guilty of "Racism"

Discussion in 'Fashion Industry' started by classichic, Sep 17, 2013.

  1. classichic

    classichic Super Star

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    #1 classichic, Sep 17, 2013
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  2. Artemis

    Artemis Grand Dame

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    It peeves me off when racism is defined as "anti-black." There are other races and, dare I say it, sub races. Vlada is Siberian. Kasia is a Pole. And, not to draw comparisons but I am from a mountainous region and look it. Yet, we are all just white people. Why is it okay for people to hollar at me in the streets for my red hair? Asian models are tearing it up right now (for the Asian market has the dollas)! It has to do with your race's branding (grr skinny blondes) and the WHOM is buying a particular label. Casting me to sell Applebottoms is a laugh, for urban people think I look like a freak. One label I shot for publicly referred to me as a faerie. I don't know if I am being helpful. I don't like that it is that way. Red heads are mystical creatures and freaks (when I agency shop I frequent the response "I already have a ginger on the board"--and they, of course, have 25 blondes and 25 brunettes). So, yeah.
     
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  3. Babydoll

    Babydoll Guest

    Honestly the worst issue, to me, in the modeling industry, is definitely racism. Even the most "diverse" shows have a mostly white cast.

    The recent Calvin Klein show featured five black models, which is something huge considering that Francisco Costa's shows are some of the most white-washed of them all. But those were the only five non-whites, only five looks out of the 35 in total were modeled by models of color. Not to mention that there weren't even models of other ethnicities. :rolleyes:

    It's almost as if they can't look at the people beyond their ethnicities if they aren't white. It's always "Naomi Campbell is the best BLACK supermodel" or "Liu Wen is the prettiest ASIAN model", etc, etc. It simply isn't "the best supermodel" or "the prettiest model", because they have to be categorized by the color of their skin.

    As with the Calvin Klein example, and Prada casting their first black girl SINCE 1994 :mad: in an ad campaign, maybe acceptance for all ethnic backgrounds is progressing, very slowly, but progressing. But still, how can we expect diverse runways if the world we live in is racist too?
     
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  4. classichic

    classichic Super Star

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    I don't really know how much racism there is in the industry but from what I've seen that really annoys me is that previously there were hardly any Asian models and now we see at least one in a lot of the shows. I wonder whether it's because they're trying to appeal to the Asian markets because of the growing Asian market or whether their attitudes towards different races have really changed. Also, I know that it's all about trying to appeal to the market and the buyers but what it's really sending out is that white people are the buyers. I mean aren't there people from different ethnicities living in the big cities where Fashion Week is run with money to burn? It just seems to me that they think only white people have money. Surely these people have been to Harrods before, it's full of rich people from different ethnicities.

    Having said that I would love to see more different races and I wish there were people from different races not just black models/fashionistas fighting to see more black girls in the industry.
     
  5. Artemis

    Artemis Grand Dame

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    Have you read the September issue if Vogue--or even given it a good flip? A big Asian showing. Now, as for redheads. . . Ha.
     
  6. Melancholia

    Melancholia Rookie

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    Yeah, lack of diversity is still pretty apparent in the fashion industry, imo. I'm a minority myself, actually, and it's sad how excited I get to see a model that looks like me. Annd it's not just black models! Where are the Latina models or South Asian models? I don't know if I'd go so far as to use the word "racism" to describe the current situation, but prejudiced, for sure, especially after reading some casting directors' excuses for only using white models.
     
  7. dietcokediet

    dietcokediet Super Star

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    The portion of Asia's population that is modelling today would probably equate to the portion of natural redheads that is modelling today. Like, 1000=you;)


    Joking aside, I think that the use of the Asian models has to do with the industry itself, not only with the growing market. Asia has a place in fashion today. As a group, be it assistants, photographers, makeup artists or lighting directors, they are expanding. And the barriers are more easily broken from the inside.
    Anyway, the racism word gets thrown around excessively. At the same time, I can see how in countries with two big ethnic groups there are going to be polarizing issues because none of the two is a minority, but one acts superior, or the other feels overlooked.
    Opportunities and access are better words than racism. And it is not a phenomenon of fashion only. You could say the same things about Hollywood, doctors, lawyers, university students...
     
  8. tempblah

    tempblah Rookie

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    To quote from the article:

    It would be interesting (though rather controversial) to know statistics about their customers. Regardless of the socio-economic reasons, unfortunately I suspect the customers of expensive high-fashion items are largely wealthy caucasians, in which case the models would be racially representive of the customers. Advertising does the same thing all the time, you try and show a person in the advertisement the customer can potentially project themselves onto.

    Not to say that racism doesn't exist in fashion, but trying to force an equal racial mix for the sake of political correctness probably wouldn't help sales figures.
     
  9. bisou

    bisou Super Star

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    I don't know about that. Affirmative action is quite predominant in undergraduate and graduate school (especially medical school) admissions to ensure a "diverse" incoming class. The fashion industry, on the other hand, has been linked to racism for a while now.

    The only affirmative action I agree with in merit-based admissions is socioeconomic affirmative action. The fashion industry is tricky though because for models, it's all about the way someone looks, and obviously someone's physically discernible skin color has everything to do with appearance. Designers that don't want to hire a model because she has skin that isn't white are, to some degree, racist. They could be hardcore, I-think-race-X-is-superior-to-race-Y racist, or just obsessed with the look of blue-eyed white girls. Either way, designers should ultimately realize that a runway lacking diversity sends the wrong message. A show with models of unique ethnicities is more beautiful and interesting.
     
  10. Artemis

    Artemis Grand Dame

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    Out of curiosity, I tallied the races found in the America Vogue Setember. Quite a showing for the blonde/brunette, no?
     

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  11. dietcokediet

    dietcokediet Super Star

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    It all depends on how you (or rather, the designer) perceives fashion. It is his name after all, his idea, his work. The brand has been conceived, shaped and displayed, collection after collection, with a point of view and an image of the one who wil wear it, the ideal woman. And the ads, the runway shows, are the realization of that image. If I create a dress and in my mind, a blonde girl is wearing it, then yes, the model for the photoshoot will be blonde.
    It is so much more obvious to see racism in fashion because models are cast based solely on looks. Looks are what makes ethnics recognizable. Fashion is visual more than anything else. It is up to the designer to decide if he wants to send a message or if he wants to stay true to his concept.

    (Of course I am talking about the fashion world that is in my head, this is my romanticized image of high fashion)
     
  12. 71000

    71000 Super Star

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    The difference is that the white beauty ideal generally appeals to minorities, not only to white people, whereas the reverse may not be true. This is visible in the African-American community, where lighter skin and straight hair are found more attractive, and in Asia, where big eyes and small nose bridges (Western features) are popular. A white model may not appeal to everyone, but she wouldn't exclude anyone because white is the standard. Same thing can't be said for an Arabian model, a black model, a Latina model, etc. (Using Asian models to expand to the growing Asian market is definitely true though - just look at the F/W 2013.14 campaigns! A lot more black models too, so most of the diversity might be attributed to the backlash designers are receiving right now.)

    So I understand why some brands shy away from using minorities in ads, because ads are supposed to attract the widest customer base possible. HOWEVER, I don't comprehend why they can't include diversity on their runways, because most people don't even watch the runway shows! Runway shows don't directly advertise the clothes to the consumers, so there's no need to try to "appeal to the market." In that case, I think designers prefer white models because they really are blank canvases. People don't really have preconceived notions about white models based on their race, whereas ethnic models come with stereotypes (ex: black model = African queen, Latina model = sex bomb, etc). Also, a designer's ideas about the models he/she wants for a show may be tinted by racial bias. If a designer says he/she wants ethereal models, that could easily be interpreted as models with fair skin, elvish features, and blonde hair, which would automatically eliminate all ethnic minorities.
     
  13. 71000

    71000 Super Star

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    In this situation, I would wonder why a blonde girl fits the clothes. Is it because the color palate would be more flattering on a blonde? Or because you connect the ideas associated with the dress, the mood to be evoked, to a certain type of model? (By type I just mean category, not necessarily ethnicity.) Let's say the dress looks like something designed by Elie Saab, and the designer envisions the dress for someone elegant, ethereal, and pristine. There's no racial bias to the actual words, but since we're human, we obviously have some bias. Some people may connect "elegant, ethereal, and pristine" only to models who look like Sasha Luss and Vlada Roslyakova, even though ethnic models like Fei Fei Sun, Ji Hye Park, and Jasmine Tookes also arguably (since it is a matter of taste) fit those concepts. So it's not really downright racism, just subconscious stereotypes that are easy to overlook.

    So I agree that designers have the right to choose models that represent their vision. The problem is subconscious bias that may impact their vision. Designers, photographers, magazines, and the media in general have a lot of power in shaping our perceptions of beauty. However they choose to use that power is up to them.
     
  14. dietcokediet

    dietcokediet Super Star

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    @71000

    If all design houses are now working as brands and have to sell their product and appeal to the customer in the same way that Gap and Banana Republic do, runway shows are the place to enjoy the artistic side of high fashion. Many designers treat it as a performance, merging the theatrical and the collection. The CEO doesn't get it and doesn't care, same as the designer will probably have to accept and concede to some modifications because it is better from the marketing's point of view.

    And I think that the image of a certain type of model doesn't come after the clothes are made, it is what inspires to create them. It is already there, and yes it might have to do with subconscious stereotyping (what isn't?). Sometimes it is the legacy of a brand that has always designed following this concept. For me, a designer (a brilliant one) has a muse in his head that gets him to picture and draw the clothes. And then he has to find the model that looks the most like that muse.
     
    #14 dietcokediet, Sep 17, 2013
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  15. classichic

    classichic Super Star

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    What makes you think they're largely wealthy caucasians?


    Opportunities and access is probably a better word for Hollywood, lawyers, and uni students etc but these things are largely based on merit (probably not entirely true for Hollywood) and (a little) pro towards trying to add diversity. The strange thing these days is that the white uni student population is declining in the UK. On a side note, my uni is largely Asian, and on my course I'm the minority, and I'm studying medicine.
     
  16. tempblah

    tempblah Rookie

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    Just a guess, based on the large economic divide between racial groups (which has been getting steadily worse in the last few decades).
     
  17. Anna

    Anna Rookie

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    :hmm:
    Except it's not like most designers' runway shows consistently have only pale platinum blonde elvin faces, for example. Celine will have white girls with different hair colors and looks but no black girls? Sort of as @71000 said, if there is a certain type of style (androgynous, babydoll) that is suitable for the brand, that's a poor excuse for excluding other ethnicities from not having the desired look or merely picking one token Asian/black/etc girl. In fact, if a designer's "ideal" is limited to Caucasians only, despite there being his type of girl - androgynous boyish models - of various "races", that does send out a racist message.


    There are big markets outside of the US/Europe in Asia and the Middle East! :)
    http://www.fashionunited.co.uk/fash...ing-market-for-retail-expansion-2013062017892
    http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE7942YG20111005?irpc=932
     
    #17 Anna, Sep 22, 2013
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