The lack of diversity in fashion and on the runway is not a new issue. Season after season, a number of designers neglect to include models of color (aside from including one or two in a mix of waif-like white faces). However, former model agent Bethann Hardison is calling out the fashion organizations and the designers that perpetuate this racially divisive trend.
Hardison, after scouring through years of runways images for roughly a month, has sent out a letters to the CFDA, British Fashion Council, the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana in Milan and the Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers and Créateurs de Mode in Paris remarking on the significant lack of models of color across the global runways.
"Eyes are on an industry that season after season watches fashion design houses consistently use of one or no models of color. No matter the intention, the result is racism. Not accepting another based on the color of their skin is clearly beyond 'aesthetic' when it is consistent with the designer’s brand," Hardison's letter states.
What's so important in Hardison's letter is the recognition of thinly-veiled discrimination. For an industry that hides behind the excuse that models of color aren't in line with aesthetics of a collection, the end result is racism—regardless of how it's framed.
The brands and designers that Hardison publicly calls out are not little-known names. They are easily recognized designers like Calvin Klein, Rag & Bone, Prada, Versace, and Celine among several others.
The importance of Hardison's letter is not that it points the finger, but rather unflinchingly points out the issue. Racism is rampant in casting for the runway, whether designers do it actively or not.