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Apparently the long-discussed issue of diversity in fashion as it relates to black models is as much of an issue overseas as it is here in The States. As Paris Fashion Week comes to an end, a group of black models have taken to the Parisian streets to protest fashion brands amidst claims of racism and cultural appropriation.

Blavity is reporting on the protest started by a collection of black models who wanted to call out the consistent lack of diversity on the fashion runways and how black culture is often used in runway presentations that feature few if any models of color. Led by model India Irvin, the protest was also meant to be inclusive to advocating women’s rights.

The report states:

In light of prevalent accusations of cultural appropriation on the runways at New York Fashion Week, U.K.-based model India Irvin felt the time was right to bring light to the historic lack of diversity that continues to prevail on runways in Paris, Milan, and London. “February was black history and March is women’s so it just felt right,” she wrote in an Instagram post.   

Holding a sign that read “Les Modèles Noirs Importent” (translated “Black Models Matter”), Irvin protested outside the Balenciaga show on Saturday where of the 47 models featured in the show, there were only four models of color. In an Instagram post, Irvin explained that while her protest happened outside of the Balenciaga show, the fashion brand is not unique in its underrepresentation of black models. The protest could just as easily been staged at Lanvin or Celine, or any show that “was big enough to grab the attention back to the cause,” she said.

Sigh. Despite attention being called to the fashion industry’s extreme lack of diversity, it appears that it’s falling on mostly deaf ears. Irvin used an example of this by listing the diversity facts at the Gucci 2017 show. She pointed out that the fashion house featured only 17 models of color of the 119 who walked in the show.

There is also the equally disturbing issue of using black culture on the runway (courtesy of ethnic hairstyles, music, jewelry, etc.) while not having any (or few) actual black models walking in the show. The fashion industry is supposed to be all-inclusive, but apparently if you’re a black model it’s easier said than done.


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Black Models Protest Paris Fashion Week Over Racism + Appropriation Claims  was originally published on