Lack of diversity on Fashion Week 2012 runways is continuing trend

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New York’s Fashion Week is one of the city’s most noteworthy events. Now that this season’s fall presentations have come to a close, industry watchers are examining an issue that rears its head every year: diversity on the runways.

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Each fashion week season, thousands of models walk the runways for prestigious designers, with white models making up the vast majority of those who work. In 2012, of the 4,561 individual looks that were seen during the shows, 20.1 percent were worn by women of color, according to

Black models represented 8 percent of this total, while Asian models fared slightly better with representation at 8.8 percent. Even though Latinos are the largest minority group in America, only 2.4 percent of the models used during 2012 Fall Fashion Week were Latinas.

African-Americans and Latinos make up 12.6 percent and 16.3 percent of the U.S. population respectively according to the 2010 Cenus, showing the extreme deficit in adequate representation for these groups on the runways. Asians, by contrast, make up 4.8 percent of Americans, and thus were over-represented.

Although these numbers represent a slight improvement over previous years, the most current statistics show that diversity during fashion week regarding models continues to be a difficult issue.

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Though the lack of black models seems like an intractable issue, up-and-coming black model Fashionette Morrison told theGrio that she is actually positive about her future in the industry. Wilhelmina Models just signed her two weeks ago. One of her first runways shows was during the recent 2012 Fashion Week.

“I’m just so excited right now, and so proud of myself and everyone is proud of me too,” Morrison said of her achievements.

Originally from New Jersey, the budding catwalk worker said she has wanted to be a model since she was a little girl. Her name even predestined what would become her dream career.

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“That’s my real name,” Fashionette said with a smile. “People are like, ‘Your mother named you that?’ And I’m like, ‘Yes.’”

Morrison said her mother named her Fashionette, because her husband dressed her nicely during her pregnancy. In addition, Fashionette was to be the last child her mother would have — making it an occasion for a very special name.

Could Fashionette Morrison be the next Chanel Iman, who is a current African-American modeling darling? Although both young women have names steeped in haute couture imagery, Morrison has many challenges to face if she wants to make it in an industry that often comes under fire for stereotyping and under-utilizing women of color.

Despite this, Fashionette told theGrio that her mom and friends continue to encourage her to go for a career in the fashion world — and she hopes to inspire other African-American girls as well.

In a special report, CNN has confirmed that Fashionette’s optimism is a growing trend. More black models around the world believe the industry is becoming open to their brand of beauty.

Sosheba Griffiths, a black, Jamaican model, told CNN that, “There has definitely been a big improvement since 2008 … After the all-black edition of Vogue Italia, we have seen the numbers of black models go up on catwalks, magazine shoots, adverts, everything.”

Yet in the same article, Essence magazine Editor-in-Chief Constance C.R. White stated, “there are still hurdles to overcome.”

These hurdles won’t deter Morrison from pursuing her modeling dream.

“For girls who want to go into this industry, I say just be strong and be positive,” Morrison said. “Don’t let anyone or anything get in your way. Just got for it.”