In this Throwback Thursday post, I take a look at how black models featured in print in 2016. In short, it is clear to me that progress is being made, in some magazines more so than in others.
I have not come to these conclusions by analysing statistics. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there already who do this for a variety of reasons. This post is about how I perceive things as a consumer and what influences my choices as to where I shop and what I will buy. If a magazine wants to reach out to me, it will include items that speak to me. You can’t just substitute feelings and perceptions for cold, hard stats.
And no, I don’t count the number of pages that contain an ethnic minority person in each magazine before buying, but I might be persuaded to buy a magazine which features a black, Asian or mixed-heritage person on the cover, even where the content alone might not be convincing. Take the example of the “Black” edition of Vogue Italia a number of years ago. I cannot read a word of Italian but I bought the magazine anyway.
April’s Elle had Jourdan Dunn on the cover so she fronted the main fashion feature as well as having an interview. August’s Elle had a gorgeous multicultural cover featuring Bhumika Arora, Maggie Jablonski, Ysaunny Brito and Sofie Hemmet. I should have picked up the non-subscriber edition too!
Stylist Magazine seems to be leading the way in genuinely championing diversity on its pages. Whenever I managed to pick up a Stylist Magazine last year (it is free and so good it is as rare as gold dust), I can see that there has been a concerted effort to make sure black models have a proper presence in each magazine. I shouldn’t be surprised as Stylist Magazine made a diverse beauty pledge but they have gone further, making sure the fashion pages are diverse too.
When I say “proper”, I mean I see black women I can identify with in features as well as in brand advertisements. Even if a magazine has no control over the images of brand advertisement, I’m sure there is editorial control over the features. And when I say “identify with”, I mean I see a diverse range of women that look like my friends, my family and the people who surround me every day in the undisputedly diverse London communities I live and work in.
October’s Hello Fashion Monthly was the bumper Fashion Special. I think I stopped buying HFM when the price went up but it has gone back down to £1 so maybe I will buy it more this year. You might think that the price difference was so small that I was being crazy but I already had a number of subscriptions, and it didn’t offer as much content as Glamour Magazine. Besides I would like to spend my money on things other than magazines! Going back to the HFM, Shanina Shaik was on the cover which would have grabbed my attention along with it being a “bumper issue” and a Fashion Special.
Inside I was in for a treat. There was a fashion feature (“Trend Take Out”) modelled solely by fellow Brit Leomie Anderson. She is as famous for her catwalk appearances as she is for speaking out about what I will call “shadeism” in the fashion industry. There’s still a long road ahead but we can see that the first paving stones have been laid.
The best part about the HFM Fashion Special was the Fashion Week look book – images of key pieces (and models) from the shows organised into fashion house/brand and city. This alone would make me want to pick up at least the next fashion special! It also made it clear where there was a genuine use of a diverse range of models. I know the images in the magazine didn’t feature every single model but it was entirely possible to have an all-white line up in HFM which suggests that diversity might not have been near the top of the agenda for some brands.
Rather than call out the brands that didn’t seem to be diverse (because I cannot prove whether this was in fact the case from the magazine snippets although a presumption can be inferred) I’ll highlight the ones which appear to have made an effort. In reality though, I am in no position to buy the clothes so perhaps my opinion doesn’t matter that much anyway! My list where there appeared to be more than one visible ethnic minority (in UK terms) model:
- Paul Smith featured many ethnicities. I’m actually not surprised at all because London is just that diverse!
- Temperley London
- Peter Pilotto
- Balmain which is well known for ethnic diversity and it also showcases age diversity.
- Rick Owens (a new brand to me)
- Stella McCartney
- JW Anderson
- Moschino (lots of brown beauties)
- Zac Posen
- Ralph Lauren
- Tommy Hilfiger
- Alexander Wang
- Marc Jacobs