New York Fashion Week: Less Than 10% Asian Models

With New York Fashion Week behind us, Jezebel decided to conduct a study on the diversity of the models, or lack thereof, who walked down the runway at New York Fashion Week Spring/Summer 2014.

In previous years, people have commented on the lack of representation of models of color. In fact, the Fall/Winter 2013 collections were subject to heavy criticism due to an alarming number of companies — Araks, Assembly, Belstaff, Calvin Klein, Elizabeth & James, Gregory Parkinson, J Brand, Jenni Kayne, Juicy Couture, Louise Goldin, Lyn Devon, Threeasfour, and Whit — 13 in all, that featured only white models.

So naturally, we were eager to see what would happen this past Fashion Week. Companies had to try and remedy this diversity gap, right? And there were nearly 5,000 looks. That’s plenty of opportunity for models of color to take on the runway.

The results? Almost 80 percent of those 5,000 looks were modeled by white women, a number that has pretty much remained static since 2008.

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This is not to say that all designers completely ignored the criticism of previous years. Anna Sui, Pamella Roland, Jeremy Scott, Dennis Basso, Vivienne Tam, KaufmanFranco, Rachel Comey, Alice + Olivia, Ohne Titel, Tracy Reese, Thom Brown, Diane von Furstenberg and Zac Posen are on the list of designers who featured at least 30 percent models of color. While this number may still seem rather low, it is unfortunately the best we’ve got.

Many of the designers who were critiqued for having no models of color tried to remedy this by adding three to five non-white models. (We know. We’re rolling our eyes, too.)

Some designers tried to trick the crowd and give the illusion of a more diverse set of models. While this season seemed to be more diverse, the same models of color were being booked and were simply walking the runway multiple times.

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From left: Liu Wen at Jason Wu; Ji Hye Park at Nicole Miller; Tian Yi at Monique Lhuillier; Yumi Lambert at Y-3.

The Asian models above prove this. Tian Yi walked 15, Yumi Lambert was seen in at least 13 and Ji Hye Park and Liu Wen walked 12 shows. Rather than book a variety of models of color, companies relied on the same faces.

Somali supermodel Iman Abdulmajid was part of the crowd watching this season’s New York Fashion Week and noticed the lack of diversity on the runway.

“I’ve always said runways and photos are important to shape our young girls,” Abdulmajid said in an interview last week. “To see models of color on the runway is important to the self-esteem of our young girls. To see otherwise makes them feel like they can be in or out.”

We can only cross our fingers that those in power in the fashion industry also begin to understand the importance of diversity on the runways.

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Aila Wang: Fashion Week’s Youngest (and Most Adorable!) Style Star

Front-row at the latest Alexander Wang show was a who’s who of the fashion world’s biggest names and brightest young things, including Carine Roitfeld, photographer Terry Richardson, actress Kerry Washington, rapper Kanye West and actress Zoe Kravitz. However, only one person was lucky enough to don Wang’s latest collection even before it debuted down the runway. Dressed in a white “Parental Advisory” tee, black skirt, and Jordan slides, 4-year-old Aila Wang already had the show’s ’90s, logo-driven theme on lock.

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Just who is this young style starlet? The niece of designer Alexander Wang, Aila first caught our attention when a photo of her (below) backstage at her uncle’s eponymous show circulated across fashion blogs some seasons back. With her updo and round cheeks, she looked helplessly cute. But her all-black outfit, complete with a fur coat, baby Chanel and high-tops, gave us an unusual case of sartorial envy.

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She’s become a front-row staple at her uncle’s famed runway shows for a handful of seasons now, all while creating quite a name for herself in the street-style department. Successfully treading the fine line between cutting edge and adorable, this toddler manages to give even the most seasoned style vets a run for their money.

Scroll down for more of Aila’s enviable looks.

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NYFW 2012 Coverage: Four Asian Designers You Need to Check Out NOW

In August, the 2012 London Olympic Games gave many Asians athletes an international platform to demonstrate their physical prowess. Last month, a different group of Asians were put on the spotlight. A new season of Fashion Week took over New York and I was there to soak it all in all while getting first-hand looks at the creativity of numerous Asian designers inside or outside the tents. Check out four Asian designers or brands that were at this season’s New York Fashion Week.

Gavin Rajah


The South African-born designer debuted his Spring 2013 collection as one of the five designers featured at the Arise African Icons fashion collective, held in Lincoln Center. From sparkly pink shorts to the gold dresses, Gavin Rajah stayed true to his opulent designs as even his headgear were luxurious like the gold visors. [Image Courtesy: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week]

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Audrey’s Best of 2012 | Top Five Asians in Fashion Moments

Comme des Garcons’s Rei Kawakubo Wins CFDA International Award for 2012. Photo courtesy of CFDA.

1. Asians win big at CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America): Philip Lim, Joseph Altuzarra, and Rei Kawakubo.


Joseph Altuzarra, Phillip Lim and Tabitha Simmons win Swarovksi Award for Emerging Talent in Womenswear, Menswear and Accessories, respectively. Photo courtesy of Vogue.com.
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New York Fashion Week + Asians in Fashion | 2/10/13: Thakoon, Trina Turk, Monique Lhuillier, Diane Von Furstenberg, Derek Lam – and more!

Sun Fei Fei for Derek Lam Fall 2013

The third day of NYFW promised more electrifying looks after a star studded Saturday of runway looks from Prabal Gurung, Alexander Wang, Jen Kao, and Joseph Altuzarra from the day prior. Check out some looks modeled by our favorite Asian models in this roundup!

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New York Fashion Week + Asians in Fashion | 2/9/13: Alexander Wang, Prabal Gurung, Altuzarra, Jen Kao – and more!

Chiharu Okunugi & Sun Fei Fei for Altuzarra

The third day was the biggest day for Asian fashion designers: Alexander Wang (right before he heads over to Balenciaga as Creative Director), Prabal Gurung (did you score something from his Target collection?), Joseph Altuzarra, and our personal favorite – Jen Kao. Check out some of our favorite looks!

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New York Fashion Week: Blanc de Chine’s Fall/Winter 2013 “Dunhuang”

Blanc de Chine proves that you don’t need to be “under the tents” at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week to bring in the buzz and the crowd. The luxurious Chinese brand showcased their Fall/Winter 2013 collection at their Fifth Avenue store on Sunday (February 10) to a fashionable crowd that included Chinese-American singer Baiyu.

Blanc de Chine kept their inspirations close to the homeland. Menswear was inspired by the robes in the Tang Dynasty, while the womenswear was inspired by the flying Apsaras, the female spirit of the clouds and water and the symbol of Dunhuang art. Both influences were beautifully expressed throughout the collection, notably in the womenswear. Female models walked the runway in elegant and airy pieces, varying from flowy dresses to sleek pants and sheer camisoles in earthy shades of blue, green, brown, gray and black. But the one look that seemed to embody the essence of the Apsara was the navy long dress with sheer cape, bringing to mind the fabric and ribbons that would support the windless Apsaras when flying in the air. What made the afternoon more special for Blanc de Chine was that their fashion week date fell on Chinese New Year, treating the guests with wine and dumplings.

To check out more of Blanc de Chine, blancdechine.com.

Photo Courtesy