L’Oreal Fashion Week versus Ethics
Being preoccupied with my awesome job, being sick and being 23, I completely forgot about Toronto fashion week until a friend mentioned it. So yes, I am alive, I am going and I will be blogging.
I decided to be an adult this year and not lie through my teeth or beg my poor intern friends for extra passes to get into Toronto fashion’s sacred cow and submitted this blog as the media group I’m representing. A big wtf later, I was accepted… as web media mind you, but still in the game.
With all the debate in the States and EU about the lack of racial and physical diversity in runway models, I was surprised that the local national media didn’t take a good hard look at our own fashion weeks and see where we stand in terms of these issues. It seems that they were rather content to publish the scandal if it was a foreign affair. I thought it would really curious if I performed my own analysis to calculate the percentage of racial diversity in Toronto’s fashion week and compare it to the diversity of Toronto’s actual population. After all, someone needs to eventually do it.
There are several limitations to this project. First of which was that I didn’t actaully go to all of the shows from F/W 08 so I would have to rely on the photos from LFW’s website. I don’t know if they show the entire lineup of girls per each show on their website or if it is edited to a select few, in which case there would be editing bias.
Secondly, I have to base my categorization of the model’s races on my imperfect ability to differentiate facial features. I may mistaken a mixed model for any of the races his or her parents may be or if the light changes the tone of the model skin, etc. Other related personal limitation is the fact that many of the girls, given similar makeup and hair, look very similar which makes it really hard to account for a show’s actual lineup. So for the purpose of this experiment, I will not be accounting for the specific roster of the girls but the number of times a particular race is displayed per a show’s picture set on the LFW website. I don’t really know what effect the above will have on the accuracy of the analysis.
Something else you should also note is that I have very limited knowlege on the way models are casted for a show. But maybe that will be a strength rather than a weakness because I would not be affected by the politics of casting.
Anyhow, given the above limitations, the tally come up to this:
499 pictures of Caucasian, 55 pictures of black, 26 pictures of Asian, 6 pictures of Hispanic, 7 pictures of South Asian, 13 pictures of Middle Eastern, 0 pictures of native and 6 pictures of mixed race girls were displayed. That gives a 82% display of non-visible minority and a 18% display of visible minority, in comparison to the 46.9% of visible minority in the actual Toronto population. I can’t really tell if this is acceptable. 18% visible minority is better than the reported white-out in the Paris and Milan fashion weeks. If Torontonians suddenly decided to only purchase designers whose roster reflects Toronto’s demographics within +/-10%, we would only be able to shop fromEvan Bidell and The Diesel Kids. It was also interesting to note that designers used Caucasian girls in their walk out after the show 71% of the time according to the photos.
The designer that used the most visible minorities was Kendra Francis and the designers that used no visible minorities were Paul Hardy, Nadya Toto, Philip Sparks, Joe Fresh, Joeffer, and Comrags. Most of the designers didn’t reach the 46% mark. Another interesting point is that visible minority designers on average used visible minorities in 32% of their line up of girls, with the most being Franke using 92% visible minority models and the least being Joeffer Caoc, having no girls of visible minority. Non-visible minority designers had 14% of visible minorities in their line ups. That’s more than a 100% difference.
I’m not paticularly against fur myself, but as it is the pet project of someone out there I thought it would be interesting to inventory that as well.
32% of designers in LFW uses fur in their pieces.
I also took some data on the percentage of outfits that I enjoyed per designer based on the photographs shown on the webpage.
Of course, how ethical a designer is doesn’t matter if their product sucked so I thought it would be neat to compare how “buyable” (in my own humble sense of style) a designer’s work is versus the diversity of the models they hired. There was absolutely no correlation. I thought the most buyable collections were Lucian Matis, Andy The Anh and David Dixon and that Sar Couture, Slaka, Hibebe and Lewd shouldn’t have bothered to show up.
If I were to give equal weight to both the use of fur (as a negative) and the correctness of the diversity of their models, once again, the winners would be Evan Bidell and the Diesel kids.
Adding “buyability” to the metrics:
So if you want to buy beautifully designed, ethical clothing, Lucian Matis is the way to go, followed closely by Kendra Francis.
In the end, I don’t know if this means anything. It probably doesn’t. After all, if TIAF was any indication, the majority of women that purchase clothes of that price range is 40+ years old and lilly-white, so I don’t blame designers for cateering to their clientele.