Kanye West brings much-needed diversity to runway fashion

Like Hollywood, the fashion industry is scrutinized for being “white-washed.” Legions of Caucasian women strut down runways across the world, with just a few women of color dotting the landscape.

According to TheFashionSpot.com, 80 percent of runway models in 2015 were white. While more models of color have been opening and closing major shows, white models still dominate the industry. The spring 2016 shows only decreased the share of white models by 2.4 percent from the previous year.

The popularity of models like Jourdan Dunn and Joan Smalls is an exception to the overall rule; these women are the Naomi Campbells among a sea of Christy Turlingtons and Claudia Schiffers.

Perhaps the biggest advocate for change is Mr. “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” Kanye West. Since launching his ready-to-wear collection, his shows have garnered attention not only for the clothes’ controversial aesthetic, but also for the casting of his shows. Any given Yeezy “Season” is likely to have more models of color than say, a Ralph Lauren show.

As recently as 2008, some castings called for “No blacks, no ethnics,” according to co-founder of Premier Model Management Carole White. West turned this standard on its head when he tweeted to his 25.7 million followers an open casting for “Multiracial Women Only” for his Season 4 show. Like many of West’s statements, this garnered backlash.

Many believed the call for multiracial women excluded darker-skinned women who struggle in the industry. Although runways feature too many white models, there’s also criticism for including only light-skinned black women.

Magazines have been reprimanded for artificially lightening the skin of black women. Some black women have even cosmetically lightened their skin, perceiving it to be more acceptable. Before and after pictures Lil’ Kim, Nicki Minaj, and Blac Chyna provide a few examples.

And while, yes, there were many shades of beige at Yeezy Season 4, West silenced the naysayers with the inclusion of dark-skinned black women and models outside the physical standard of rail-thin and skyscraper tall. Model Sofia Richie stands at just 5-foot-6 tall. The music video for West’s “Fade” features Teyana Taylor with her athletic, yet still curvy figure on a 5-foot-2 frame.

West’s diverse casting also speaks to the power of his wife, Kim Kardashian. Before Kim, the American standard of beauty in Hollywood echoed that of the fashion industry: thin and blonde à la Paris Hilton and Kate Moss.

As Kim and her family gained popularity, their Armenian features and voluptuous figures made curves sexy again, harking back to the age of Marilyn Monroe. While many decry the Kardashian family for their somewhat inexplicable popularity, there’s no denying they encourage a more diverse standard of beauty.

Whether a woman is short like Kourtney, tall like Khloé, thin like Kendall, curvy like Kylie, she is beautiful.

Whether or not you love or hate Kanye West and his sartorial choices, he and his family have undoubtedly asserted the diversity of beauty and force the fashion industry to pay attention.

Kelly Brody is a senior majoring in journalism.

Featured image courtesy Flickr user Hashim Sirleaf

September 28, 2016


Kelly Brody

Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • Error

A heap of preseason accolades are being showered daily on the University of Miami football players. ...

James Jones, who starred at Hialeah American High School, the University of Miami and was a part of ...

A classic good news/bad news scenerio arose for Miami Hurricanes football at the recent Atlantic Coa ...

The University of Miami football players are not the only ones getting preseason accolades. The guys ...

Defending national champ Clemson led all Atlantic Coast Conference schools Wednesday with five playe ...

Gomez, an expert on human values and attitudes in post-Castro Cuba, will serve as interim director o ...

The University of Miami announced the appointment of Cindy Munro as the new dean of the School of Nu ...

Read the latest entries from UM students who are spending part or all of their summer visiting diffe ...

University of Miami’s Office of Civic and Community Engagement harnesses technology to seek affordab ...

UM female scientists share some insight on women in science, science in Hollywood and how Wonder Wom ...

RSS Error: A feed could not be found at http://www.hurricanesports.com/. A feed with an invalid mime type may fall victim to this error, or SimplePie was unable to auto-discover it.. Use force_feed() if you are certain this URL is a real feed.

TMH Twitter Feed
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly on Thursdays during the regular academic year.