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Between The Catwalk And The Consumer: Fashion’s Growing Diversity Gap

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 13/10/2015 Julee Wilson
FASHION DIVERSITY © Getty FASHION DIVERSITY

LONDON, United Kingdom — Bethann Hardison remembers the days when, before every New York Fashion Week, “Casting directors would send out notices to all the modelling agencies in the city, saying 'no blacks, no ethnics' — we don’t want to see them.” Back then, the issue of diversity in the fashion industry had “got lost like a splinter,” says Hardison, a former model and founder of the Diversity Coalition, which works with industry bodies like the CFDA to raise awareness about racial diversity and discrimination in fashion.

In 2007, tired and frustrated, Hardison hosted a press conference in a New York hotel, where she publicly lambasted the industry’s lack of diversity. “From that moment on,” Hardison says, “No one has ever said that again.”

Since then, greater media coverage, the work of advocacy organisations such as the Diversity Coalition, and the willingness of high profile figures like Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell to speak out about their experiences, has spotlighted the issue of diversity in the fashion industry. But this has not resulted in a significant rise in the number of models of colour walking the runways and gracing the covers of glossy magazines.

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