DIVERSITY RULES: With race relations very much in the popular vernacular, U.S. designers have specific diversity guidelines to work with as they approach the September shows.
This season’s CFDA health initiative letter from Diane von Furstenberg and Steven Kolb includes racial diversity pointers provided by the Diversity Coalition. CFDA members have been advised “to encourage the industry to be inclusive of racial diversity when preparing casting of models for their company needs.”
Asking model agencies to include models of color for castings, requesting models of color every season, suggesting to model agencies that they scout more models of color and making an effort “to add diversity to your lineup” are also part of the guidelines. “Our objective is to make a shift on how the model of color is viewed so it becomes natural to see them participating each season in a greater number than seasons past,” the e-mail read.
The Diversity Coalition’s founder Bethann Hardison helped champion the need for more diversity on the runways by holding a public discussion among designers and industry insiders in 2007. The CFDA honored her for activism with the Founder’s Award in honor of Eleanor Lambert in 2014.
Hardison said Thursday, “I am happy to know that the CFDA thinks it is important to remind people. I wrote those guidelines four or five, or however many years ago, and they are still relevant ideas. These are basics for people to be responsible to the idea of diversity.”
Designers and casting agents need to specifically ask for models of color, and if those requests are not met, “they have to have an assistant or someone call back.”
As part of its Health Initiative, the CFDA offered some clear-cut advice in Thursday’s letter to help people keep an eye out for warning signs for eating disorders among models. The CFDA also vowed to continue to promote health and wellness through its new partner Equinox.