• 14 June 2011

The question of racism in fashion is ever-present. Why aren’t there more black models landing the big campaigns? There are often all white runway shows, but rarely all black ones.

Recently, Vogue UK Editor Alexandra Shulman was questioned on the topic. She told the Daily Mail, “There have always been black players on the scene — at the moment look at the stylist Edward Enninful, make-up artist Pat McGrath and [models] Jourdan Dunn, Liya Kebede and Joan Smalls, who are at the top of the tree …”

She continued, “In a society where the mass of the consumers are white and where, on the whole, mainstream ideas sell, it’s unlikely there will be a huge rise in the number of leading black models. If you look at the characters that sell magazines such as Grazia and Heat, it is Jennifer Aniston, Cheryl Cole and Catherine Middleton.”

The next question was whether there would be a black cover star for Vogue UK in the near future.

“I don’t want to discuss who I wish to have on the cover, but there are at least two black figures in the pipeline,” she said.

So, the question remains, is there racism present in the fashion industry, or is fashion simply a reflection of society in that people’s own prejudices dictate what models are used to sell clothes, magazines etc?

It would be interesting to compare the sales for issues with white models on the cover to to those with black models. One magazine that regularly features black cover models is i-D, but would it work for a more mainstream magazine?

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