The fashion industry may be more diverse than it once was but are things moving fast enough? There’s still a long, long way to go before racial minorities are equally represented on the catwalk, in campaigns and on the pages of glossy magazines.
For all the steps the industry appears to be taking in the right direction — such as Rihanna’s recent appointment as the first black spokesperson for Dior — a sobering statistic reminds us that things haven’t changed enough. For example The Guardian reported that, over the course of fashion week, eight out of 10 models on the catwalk were white — a number that has barely changed over the last few seasons.
This is why Lorde Inc, a London based street casting modelling agency, is a breath of fresh air. Established in 2013 by arts history graduate Nafisa Kaptownwala, the agency is highlighting models of colour and celebrating them in all their untouched glory: there’s no shirking away from cellulite, acne scars and body hair here.
Many of the models signed to Lorde Inc were discovered on Tumblr, which Kaptownwala praised in a recent interview with Dazed: “There is so much importance in community. I went to university in Montreal at a really white school. Often, I would be the only non-white person in my 100+ lecture halls and Tumblr was my saving grace. It’s such an essential place for other marginalised people to reach out to one another and establish a sense of solidarity and support for each other’s experiences and ideas. But also Tumblr puts people on blast when they’re slipping, fosters progressive thought, and gives you certain people’s insight that you may not have access to otherwise.”
Of the response to Lorde Inc from the fashion industry Kaptownwala reckons the jury’s still out: “People seem to be into us, but we mostly get love from socially conscious platforms. We’re always asked to participate in projects that have some social justice element, which is cool and we’re about that, but we also want our models to get work with mainstream projects too. I can’t tell if people are ready for us or not.”
Photo credit: Lorde Inc/Instagram
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