Spring 2017 Runway Diversity Report: Just Over 25% Were Models of Color

Yeezy Spring 2017 runway. Image via AP
Yeezy Spring 2017 runway. Image via AP

Though Kanye West’s Spring 2017 Yeezy show was widely panned for the way it subjected street-casted models to hours of intense heat to the point of passing out, it still achieved the distinction of being the most racially diverse runway at all of fashion month. Ninety-seven percent of West’s cast was comprised of models of color, followed by shows from Kimora Lee Simmons (82%) and Ashish (75%).


Those numbers come from The Fashion Spot, which compiled the data from 299 shows over the course of New York-London-Paris-Milan fashion month, comprising a total of 8,832 models. In doing so, they found that this was the most racially diverse fashion month ever, in which models of color made up 25.35% of runway castings, up from last season’s 24.75%. Among those numbers, 10.33% of the models were black, 7% were Asian, 3.36% were Latina, .40% were Middle Eastern and 4.27% were “Other.”

Every city’s diversity numbers improved except for New York’s, which went down from 31.9% to 30.3%, but The Fashion Spot found that New York Fashion Week is still the most inclusive when it comes to casting models of different races and ethnicities, size and age, as well as trans models. And three of the ten most-casted models of fashion month were women of color: Lineisy Montero, Mayowa Nichols, and Selena Forrest.

Lineisy Montoro walks in Balmain (Getty Images); Mayowa Nichols in Chanel (Instagram); Selena Forrest in FENTY x PUMA (Getty Images).
Lineisy Montoro walks in Balmain (Getty Images); Mayowa Nichols in Chanel (Instagram); Selena Forrest in FENTY x PUMA (Getty Images).

There were also shows that included no models of color whatsoever; those were The Row (come on Mary Kate and Ashley?!), Mila Schön, Daniela Gregis, Junya Watanabe and Anrealage (great show, shitty casting).

According to the Fashion Spot’s number crunching, though, fashion houses in general still really fall short in other areas of diversity. Of the 16 plus size models cast in runway shows, for instance, all were in New York (five walked in Christian Siriano); and only 13 models over 50 were on runways, including two at Eckhaus Latta. Ten trans models walked, eight of whom were in New York (four at Chromat, three at Gypsy Sport). It’s difficult to say how that number corresponds with the number of trans people in the general population, since experts still don’t have a definitive handle on how to count that. Is it any wonder that the designers interested in the most diversity tend to be younger, cooler and more creative? I do not think so!

In short, fashion needs to do better, but runways are improving—incrementally. Read more analysis and see break-out graphs at The Fashion Spot.



This seems like a good news/bad news situation for the Kanye models. Good news: more diversity. Bad news: they had to wear those “clothes”.