Sep 5, 2016
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CFDA urges New York Fashion Week to show true colors

Sep 5, 2016

With New York Fashion Week just days away, the industry has big issues on the brain.

Zac Posen - ©Zac Posen / Instagram

Late last week, WWD reported that the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) had issued a letter as part of its health initiative program, reminding model agencies to "encourage the industry to be inclusive of racial diversity when preparing casting of models for their company needs."

The letter, signed by Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb, went on to make a point of asking agencies to take an active approach to recruiting and including models of color in castings.

The move was a bold but necessary confirmation of the change many believe is needed in the fashion industry when it comes to fair representation on the catwalks -- a movement which has been gathering momentum over the past few seasons. It was granted an official title during the Spring 2016 season in New York, when artist and designer Ashley B. Chew sparked the 'Black Models Matter' movement by painting the slogan on her handbag. The cause quickly went viral.

The conversation remains relevant. This weekend, Kanye West hit the headlines after tweeting a casting notice for auditions for his upcoming Yeezy season 4 show in New York. The ad requested that 'multiracial women only' turn up to audition -- a move that saw the star criticized on social media, but succeeded in turning the spotlight back on the debate.

And West's catwalk is unlikely to be the only one tackling the perceived lack of diversity in the industry. Back in the spring, during the Fall/Winter 2016 shows, designer Zac Posen used a cast of almost entirely (87 percent) non-white models, The Fashion Spot reported. Some 85 percent of the models hired at the Chromat show were also non-white, and overall, the site's statistics from 120 different presentations concluded that the AW16 New York Fashion Week was the city's most diverse yet, with white model castings totaling 68.1 percent and non-white castings totaling 31.9 percent.

With current US race relations dominating the media, New York Fashion Week could be the chance to broadcast a positive message to the rest of the industry. The CFDA certainly seems to be hoping so.

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