Spring 2016’s runways have given us hope that the fashion world is, little by little, making progress toward more ethnic inclusion on the catwalks as 28.4 percent of the models showcased were of ethnic backgrounds.
Black models led the ethnic inclusion with about 10.7 percent representation out of the 28.4 percent. Though the number is still small, designers like Chromat, helped to raise the bar by featuring a lineup comprised by 70 percent ethnic models, offering a fresh alternative to catwalks that are normally “painted white”.
However, more notable than the increase in black faces is the steadily growing trend of black models sporting natural hair on the runway.
The natural hair movement seems to have taken a strong foothold on the fashion world as huge designers like Chanel, Prada, Cèline and Gucci have opted for their black models to be represented with natural hair. Models like Dominican Lineisy Montero, Angolan, Aamito Lagum, and Martinique-born Karly Loyce stole the show for several big name designers all while wearing their hair in its natural state.
Lineisy Montero has become one of the most recognizable faces of fashion since her international debut in Prada’s Spring/Summer 2015 runway and campaign.
This Spring, she was recognized as Top Walker, with appearances in shows for 68 different fashion houses during fashion week, a position that has never been held by a model of color. Not even the great names of fashion like Naomi, Tyra, Iman and even Alek held such a coveted distinction.
It is a breath of fresh air that denotes a small, but significant change in the fashion industry, as more top designers are opting for increased ethnic inclusion on their runways. This shift is undoubtedly a response to increased pressure on the fashion industry as steadily growing foreign markets and e-commerce has greatly broadened the consumer base for luxury designers.
No longer can designers cry out that their runway shows are representative of their consumers, as these markets have introduced a growing trend of multicultural buyers.
Black models sported a variety of natural hairstyles from short, close crops like Lineisy to picked out, powerful afros like Karly Loyce, showcasing the beauty, edginess and versatility of natural black hair.
This comes on the heels of the highly touted debut of Maria Borges’ natural hair on the 2015 runway of the much anticipated annual Victoria Secret Fashion Show. She was the first black model ever to sport natural hair at the celebrated fashion show.