Since the 1970’s, fashion models of color, especially black men and women, have experienced an increase in discrimination in the fashion industry. In the years from 1970 to 1990, black designers and models were very successful, but as the 1990’s came to an end, the fashion aesthetic changed and it did not include black models or designers. In today’s fashion, black models, influencers, and designers account for one of the smallest percentages of the industry. There are many theories about this lack of diversity, that it can be attributed to the economic differences usually associated with race and class, or it can reflect the differences in arts schooling given to mostly black populated schools, and also blatant racism.
Fashion is a popular aesthetic expression in a certain time and context, especially in clothing, footwear, lifestyle, accessories, makeup, hairstyle and body proportions. Whereas, a trend often connotes a very specific aesthetic expression, and often lasting shorter than a season, fashion is a distinctive and industry-supported expression traditionally tied to the fashion season and collections. Style is an expression that lasts over many seasons, and is often connected to cultural movements and social markers, symbols, class and culture (ex. Baroque, Rococo, etc). According to sociologist Pierre Bourdieu, fashion connotes “the latest fashion, the latest difference.”
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A report from New York Fashion (Spring 2015) week found that while 79.69% of models on the runway were white, only 9.75% of models were black, 7.67% were Asian, and 2.12% were Latina. The lack of diversity also accounts for not only designers but models too, out of four hundred and seventy members of The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) only twelve of the members are black. From the same study on New York Fashion Week, it was shown that only 2.7% of the 260 designers presented were black men, and an even smaller percentage were black female designers. Even the relationship between independent designers and retailers can show the racial gap, only 1% of designers stocked at department stores being people of color. It was also found that in editorial spreads, over eighty percent of models pictured were white and only nine percent were black models. These numbers have stayed stagnant over the past few years.
Benefits of primary research is specific information about a fashion brand's consumer is explored. Surveys are helpful tools; questions can be open-ended or closed-ended. A negative factor surveys and interviews present is that the answers can be biased, due to wording in the survey or on face-to-face interactions. Focus groups, about 8 to 12 people, can be beneficial because several points can be addressed in depth. However, there are drawbacks to this tactic, too. With such a small sample size, it is hard to know if the greater public would react the same way as the focus group. Observation can really help a company gain insight on what a consumer truly wants. There is less of a bias because consumers are just performing their daily tasks, not necessarily realizing they are being observed. For example, observing the public by taking street style photos of people, the consumer did not get dressed in the morning knowing that would have their photo taken necessarily. Through observation patterns can be seen, helping trend forecasters know what their target market needs and wants.
SYNONYMY NOTE: fashion is the prevailing custom in dress, manners, speech, etc. of a particular place or time, esp. as established by the dominant section of society or the leaders in the fields of art, literature, etc.; , style, often a close synonym for , fashion, in discriminating use suggests a distinctive fashion, esp. the way of dressing, living, etc. that distinguishes persons with money and taste; , mode, the French word expressing this idea, suggests the height of fashion in dress, behavior, etc. at any particular time; , vogue stresses the general acceptance or great popularity of a certain fashion; , fad stresses the impulsive enthusiasm with which a fashion is taken up for a short time; , rage, craze both stress an intense, sometimes irrational enthusiasm for a passing fashion