We can report that the just ended New York fashion week featured the least racially diverse cast of models since 2008. New York fashion week featured 137 designer runway shows and presentations, and 5,269 different fall outfits were presented to the world's retailers and press. Of those 5,269 looks, 4,468 — an overwhelming 84.8% — were modeled by white women. 801 of those looks were given to models who aren't white. Black models were used 384 times. Asian models were used 323 times. Non-white Latina models were used 79 times. Models of other races only made it onto the runways of New York City — one of the most racially diverse places on this planet — 15 times.
Lead photo: Black models at the Fall 2011 New York collections. From top left: Ataui Deng, Rose Cordero, Mia Aminata Niaria, R'El Dade, Melodie Monrose, Anais Mali, Jourdan Dunn, Cordero, Niaria, Herieth Paul, Joan Smalls, Mali, and Dunn. Click any photo to enlarge.
Among those designers who cast diverse models were 3.1 Phillip Lim, Chado Ralph Rucci, Costello Tagliapietra, Diane von Furstenberg, Elie Tahari, Jason Wu, Nanette Lepore, Nicole Miller, Oscar de la Renta, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, Rachel Roy, Ralph Lauren, Sophie Théallet, Thakoon Panichgul, and Tracy Reese.
And some designers who did not: BCBG Max Azria, Calvin Klein, Cynthia Rowley, Diesel, Donna Karan, Hervé Leger by Max Azria, Jill Stuart, Kimberley Ovitz, Narciso Rodriguez, Rodarte, and Vera Wang.
Five shows — including the hot ticket Theyskens' Theory, Luca Luca, and Tara Subkoff's newly (re)launched label, Imitation — used white models only.
At right, some of the Asian models who took part in New York fashion week. From top left: Ping Hue Cheung, Ming Xi, Sui He, Hyoni Kang, Liu Wen, Ming, Lily Zhi, Kang, Ming, Fei Fei Sun, and Tao Okamoto.
Some models of color worked a lot. Fashion week's most frequently booked Asian models were Liu Wen and Fei Fei Sun, who each worked 18 shows, Ming Xi, who took part in 15, and So Young Kang and Tao Okamoto, who each walked in 13.
We arrive at these numbers by tracking the New York shows and presentations that are covered by Style.com as soon as fashion week concludes. As you can see, the fashion week just ended was the least racially diverse since we began keeping this data, in the Fall 2008 season. While last season we found it concerning that racial diversity on the runway seemed to have plateaued, this season the trend lines are looking bad.
Fashion week's top black model was Joan Smalls, who walked in 17 shows, including many of American fashion's biggest names. Herieth Paul, Nyasha Matonhodze, and Jourdan Dunn tied with 14 shows apiece. (Dunn was the only non-white model to walk for Calvin Klein.) Anais Mali walked in 13 shows.
At right, some of the non-white Latina models who walked in New York fashion week shows. From left: Tayane Leao Melo, Simone Carvalho, and Juana Burga.
The most-booked non-white Latina model of fashion week was Daiane Conterato, with 12 shows. Next were Juana Burga, with 11, and Tayane Leao Melo, with 9.
Contributing Researcher Noorain Khan and intern Katie Luscombe helped to collect this data.