On Monday, the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund nominees were announced and, of the 10 finalists, four of the designers are black—Christopher Bevans of Dyne, Telfar Clemens of Telfar, Victor Glemaud of Victor Glemaud, and Matthew Harris of Mateo.
This landmark win for black designers is worth celebrating, but it also comes with more than a few caveats. Most notably, there are no black women nominated this year. It also reflects a distinct lack of diversity for the award overall given that, since it began in 2003, only three finalists have been black, biracial or multiracial: 2011’s Carly Cushnie of Cushnie et Ochs; 2013’s Maxwell Osborne of Public School; and 2015’s Aurora James of Brother Vellies, according to Fashionista.
Diversity within the fashion industry hasn’t been contained to just the designers making the clothes, either. On the runway, many designers’ collections are worn by models that also fail to reflect diversity. For the fall '17 season shows in New York, London, Paris and Milan, 72.1 percent of the models were white and 27.9 percent were women of color and for some designers, like Rei Kawakubo of Comme des Garçons, there hasn’t been a single black model on their runway in over a decade (until its most recent menswear presentation).
I interrupt my gay pride posts to happily announce that after posting an @outmagazine article on May 5th regarding the lack of black models and models of color at CDG and Junya Watanabe for the last 10 years, I was very excited to see both shows return to multi racial casts on their runways today! And the shows looked better for it! Welcome back to the real world and look forward to womens in September. And thanks @justintmoran from out mag because someone definitely got your message. Go REI!
Diversity in fashion matters and, while it’s important to celebrate the strides made in the industry, it’s also important to reflect on the piecemeal approach we’ve become accustomed to. It’s huge someone like Telfar Clemens, the gay designer as known for his killer collections as he is for the DJ sets he spins at Venus X’s GHE20G0TH1K parties, are in the running for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award, but it’s also reflective of the uphill battle that black designers have to go through to find success in the industry.