Season by season, more models of diverse ethnicities, sizes, ages and abilities, among other things that set them apart from what has long been fashion’s standard, appear on fashion runways.
From beloved newer labels like Hanifa, to fashion editorials and storied maisons like Valentino, all are casting a wider net when it comes to who debuts the newest creations for the consuming public.
Here, WWD highlights five diverse models helping change the face of fashion’s runways.
The self-proclaimed “tantalizing confidence queen,” Kenyan influencer Achieng Agutu is breaking barriers as a curvy model, making her runway debut this June at womenswear label Hanifa’s spring 2022 ready-to-wear show, and in July for Black-owned swimwear brand Matte Collection’s show at Miami Swim Week.
With more than 471,000 followers on Instagram, Agutu inspires her fans through Instagram video monologues that focus on empowering women to become their most confident, stylish and healthy selves. Even before modeling, Agutu had secured partnerships for social media campaigns with brands like Valentino, Beyoncé’s Ivy Park, Marc Jacobs and Moët.
Content creator and model Emira D’spain is already heating up the industry, making history in February by becoming the first Black transgender woman to work with Victoria’s Secret. The influencer, with more than 1 million followers on TikTok, teamed up with the lingerie brand to promote social content for Valentine’s Day, posting a video, titled, “Single Girl’s Guide to the Perfect Valentine’s Day” showing people how to enjoy the holiday without a partner.
In June D’spain partnered with skin care brand Clinique on its first NFT makeup collection called “#MetaverseLikeUs,” an initiative whose aim is to bring more underrepresented groups into the metaverse.
Standing at a stunning 5’9″, Sudanese model Alaato Jazyper Michael is already making strides, walking in runway shows for notable fashion houses including Saint Laurent, Loewe, Fendi and Chanel.
According to her Instagram page, she’s represented by Fuse Management.
In July, the model opened for Valentino’s fall 2002 couture show, writing in an Instagram caption addressed to the maison’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, “Dear @pppiccioli, thank you for granting me this space and position to open your spectacular show. This was a golden moment for me and I appreciate you.” This couture fashion week, Jazyper Michael also opened for Fendi, walked in the Schiaparelli show and did her first show for Chanel.
Mamuor Awak Majeng
Signed by Elite Model Management, Mamuor Awak Majeng who hails from Sudan, is already securing runway spots for designer labels including Balenciaga, Givenchy and Dries Van Noten.
Majeng, who calls himself “elite boy” according to his Instagram bio, is using his visibility to shed light on issues in Africa, posting on Instagram on July 1 about migrant deaths at the border of Morocco and Spain, and encouraging his followers in other posts to help refugees, homeless and those who are hungry.
Rosanna Ovales Robles
Dominican model Rosanna Ovales Robles has just hit the modeling scene, making her runway debut in March of this year at Valentino’s fall 2022 ready-to-show in Paris, the famed and highly photographed “Pink PP” collection.
She is signed to IMG Models internationally and Sokrates Model Management in the Dominican Republic and has also walked for Givenchy for the label’s fall 2022 rtw collection.
Aaron Rose Philip
Aaron Rose Phillip is an Antiguan-American model whose presence is big — both in terms of being meaningful and because of her spirit. Phillip became the first Black, transgender model with a disability to be represented by a major modeling agency in 2018 when she signed with Elite Model Management at age 17.
Now signed under Milk Model Management, Phillip made her New York Fashion Week debut in Moschino’s spring 2022 show. Phillip has also appeared in campaigns for Collina Strada and Sephora.
“As a disabled child, I always had to advocate for my entire life…to get the things that I wanted,” she told WWD at its Diversity Forum in March. “Me being who I was, being young and disabled, and also young and trans, I really wanted to be able to find myself in the world. I realized how much I loved fashion.…I never once saw myself in these faces in the magazines and the books that I loved so much.” She said she wondered how fashion could be so reductive and said, “With this question in mind, that was my catalyst to enter the fashion industry.”