Shows ran from Monday through Friday, with 46 shows on the official Mercedes Benz-sponsored schedule. (Some of these featured the work of multiple designers, too.) An examination of runway photos posted at Australian Vogue’s site vogue.com.au, style.com and the official MBFWA website reveals that, of those 46, only one runway show included a black model in their line-up. That “honor” goes to streetwear brand Vanishing Elephant.
Of the 30 models walking, he’s the only instance of non-white casting. I like his shirt.
Of the 17 looks showcased by Phoenix Keating for the coming spring season (remember, Australia’s seasons are back-to-front like that), this model also stood as the solo mannequin of color.
Why? Because the slice of pie in this case woud be too small to even register. Of over 1,550 looks total walking during Australian Fashion Week’s shows, these were the only two times a black model featured. They represent 0.1% of the clothes’ walking hangers.
Harris, whose mother is Aboriginal, has been a prominent figure on Aussie catwalks in recent years. In 2010, she set a record for the most Sydney shows walked. Notably, this season however, she didn’t book any major shows; left to right here: at Raffles and Bless’ed are the Meek.
Of the roughly 1,550 looks showed in total during the week, close to 1,500 of them were presented on Caucasian models. That’s a staggeringly high percentage compared to the diversity present on the primary show circuit — the runways in New York, London, Milan and Paris.
From the fall 2013 shows as seen above, a contributor at Style Minutes determined a ratio of approximately 14 white models to every single non-white one. Jezebel’s data-mining yielded similar results.
Designers and casting directors are routinely criticized for the lack of diversity their shows embody; here in comparison to the Aussie shows, however, they look like champions of affirmative action. (Of course, that’s not really the case.) A minimum of 25 shows during Australian Fashion Week walked with no non-white models whatsoever — including some collections designed by folks from pan-ethnic backgrounds themselves.
Alongside “local girls” and those fresh on Australian agencies’ books, models with international industry cred like Ruby Jean Wilson (left, in Shakuhachi) and Oz native Julia Nobis (right, in Alex Perry) cleaned up. Each walked in more than enough shows to warrant a full post-runway weekend’s worth of foot massages. Though the pool of runway-approved Caucasians was certainly much larger than that of ethnic models (roughly in keeping with the NYC/European show ratios noted above), Australian Fashion Week also saw a small group of girls within the white majority — like Ruby and Julia, for example — walking pretty much everywhere. And homogeneity within homogeneity doesn’t help matters at all.
This trio are successful ex-contestants — each with major European runway credits to their names at this point — from Australia’s Next Top Model series six, seven and five respectively. Amanda and Montana both won their seasons, Cassi was robbed. Many of their competitors from the show joined them in shows, albeit less prominently.
Nyajame “Neo” Yakuac, another stunning contestant on AusNTM’s most recent season (she competed alongside Montana, above) didn’t book a single show. How about that?