Racism in Fashion has always been an international issue with Fashion Weeks across the globe shunning models with darker complexions. At Sao Paulo Fashion Week in Brazil, protestors from non-profit organization Educafro Brazil chained themselves together in front of the Fashion Week venue, Fundação Bienal, to demand more black models on the runway. Sound familiar?
While Brazilians run the gamut from light to dark-skinned, models chosen for Sao Paulo Fashion Week were overwhelmingly white and blonde with European features. Currently, a regulation requires that 10% of the models who walk are black while 50% of Brazil’s population is black. Educafro Brazil is asking that number be increased to 20%.
Of course, the fact that there even has to be a quota of black models is alarming. But without one, we can safely assume there would be little to no models with dark complexions walking the runway. Despite housing some of the most beautiful dark-skinned women in the world, Brazil subscribes to a standard of beauty that identifies Europeans as the ideal.
Furthermore, bookers and editors blame the market for the lack of diversity arguing black models in luxury clothes doesn’t sell. According to The Cut Blog, Bruno Soares, an African-Brazilian booker, said: “For historical reasons Brazil’s black population has been poor and not a consumer of fashion. This is reflected in the casting.”
It’s clear that without the quota black models during Sao Paulo Fashion Week would go from underrepresented to non-existent.
What do you think of bookers’ claims that black Brazilian models won’t sell clothes? Is it a valid excuse for the lack of diversity on the runway? Should other Fashion Week establish a regulated number of models of color that must be included during shows? Discuss.
-Jessica C. Andrews