An Instagram Account GETS REAL About Race Relations In The Fashion Industry

Last August, we wrote an article that talked about the lack of diversity in the fashion industry. We highlighted the amazing Instagram feed "More Models of Color" and finally got the opportunity to interview the platform:


When and what specifically led you to start the Instagram platform More Models Of Color?

We have had the idea for quite a while, but the account itself was founded in September 2014. It was an attempt to showcase that there were so many models of color available to be booked/casted. It was intended with the essential fundament of asking for more models of color to be casted.


What trends are you seeing today in the industry in terms of inclusion or “lack there of” for WOC?

The main trend is and has always been tokenism, quoting Neelam Gill, a British Indian model, "A lot of brands in the industry still use girls just to cover their backs. Their show will be full of all white girls, but they’ll put one black girl in it.” This practice can be seen at the very top of the fashion hierarchy. {This can be exhibited in the recent Vogue September issues, the most important issue of the year; Vogue Japan (6 models on the cover. 5 are caucasian and 1 is of color), British Vogue (5 models on the cover. 4 caucasian, 1 colored). Our links in the industry also tell us that other international Vogue editions which have not yet been released, follow suit in this tokenism. Other examples of the tokensim in this industry is on the runway. Since John Galliano took the reigns of Maison Margiela in 2015, every single show has casted only 2 asians girls (in some shows just 1) and 2 black girls. Franca Sozzani, who was the EIC of Vogue Italia, was an important figure in the industry in terms of challenging the diversity issue. She dedicated a whole issue to black models at a time when the industry was saying that they do not sell. Those issues went on to be among the best selling Vogue issues internationally and even had to be re-printed due to demand. {The new Editor-in-Chief of Vogue Italia, who took over after Franca's death in December 2016, is 6 covers in. Not one has been given to a MOC.} Models of color have less opportunity in comparison to their white counterparts, because they are often only used as tokens. Models of color in general never seem to be a priority. The prestigious roles, such as opening and closing shows are, in majority, given to caucasian models. This also goes for covers and campaigns. It is a sad reality.


How do you define beauty? What are the current standards of beauty?

We don't define beauty. A definition sets parameters and guidelines. It sets a criteria that you have to meet in order to be considered beautiful - that is totally what we are against. However, when considering the ideology of what beauty is, we see passed the physical. Healthy is beautiful, confidence is beautiful, feeling comfortable in your own skin is beautiful. In general, beauty standards are becoming broader, but there are still many barriers in place. Generally, Eurocentric beauty standards are still globally advertised as the ideal. These current standards are isolating due to the lack of representation, diversity and even acknowledgement, that there is no uniformal example of what beauty is. As said earlier this is slowly changing in society, and in the industry. Models such as Iman, Alek Wek, and more recently, Grace Bol and Duckie Thot, represent an Afrocentric standards of beauty, a complete.  They embrace their non-Western features and have used these to form their own USP as models. The fact that these models have become so big, indicates a progression in these standards. There is a long way to go, but change takes time.


Are you getting positive feedback from your platform? If so, provide some examples!

Yes! We get messages daily that our account has in some way helped individuals find beauty within themselves. They say they have been inspired by the account, or that the account has helped them to love their skin and be confident in who and what they are. We have had models contact us and express that they were booked for jobs as a result of being featured on our account. These instances are what truly drives us to keep on doing the work we do, that positivity is the greatest thing to hear.

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Fighting for equality, visibility and inclusion for ALL melaninated people in an industry dominated by white women has to be challenging – what are some of the hurdles and struggles the platform has faced?

The fact that you have definitively said "ALL melinated people" shows that you truly do understand what our account is about. Many account about right now focus on boosting one racial group - be it Black people, Latino people etc etc. Which is fine, but these cannot be masqueraded as groups pushing for diversity, because you're still only lobbying for one ethnic group. Using only black girls cannot be considered appropriate diversity in the same way that using all white models cannot be considered diverse. We want to boost every race and ethnicity of color. Sadly, the fight for diverse visibility has been a tough one. We get abuse by so many people, by actively racists people, by people who are just ignorant to the disadvantages faced by MOC, and by people who just flat out do not understand what our account is about. But those are significantly trumped by the positivity we receive.


Are you looking to do anything interesting in the near future?

We have a lot of plans for the future all of which play into our goal of pushing for diversity. We want to be involved in every stage, from the casting of models, to the facilitation of diversity on runways, advertisements, magazine covers and shoots, and eventually, tv and film. But we have a lot of work to do before that. Our goal is to make a true impact on the industry.