Hi, hello. I’m afraid to report that although it is February 7, 2018, brands are still blatantly ignoring calls for diversity and inclusion with ad campaigns that are, oh, approximately 95 percent white. *Insert one million enraged, exhausted eye rolls here*
The most recent offender is cult fave swimwear label, Solid & Striped, whose new “Swim Team ’18” line is modelled by 13 top catwalkers including Victoria’s Secret models Lily Alridge, Josephine Skriver and Elsa Hosk, bona fide supermodels like Carolyn Murphy and Natasha Poly and longtime L’Oréal spokesperson Barbara Palvin… and one visible woman of colour, Maybelline model Jourdan Dunn.
The lack of diversity just slaps you in the face when you see the whole line-up of white models with Dunn smack in the middle:
For the “Swim Team” collection, each model designed her own bathing suit for the Hamptons-born brand worn by celebs like Gigi Hadid and Taylor Swift and beloved by fashion girls—the line sells like hot cakes through online retailers like Shopbop, Net-a-Porter and Anthropologie, and Canadians can shop the line at local department stores like Nordstrom. For all its popularity and embrace by both the celebrity and fashion worlds, and considering the increased calls for diversity and inclusion in ALL industries, we’re just baffled that this tonedeaf campaign came to fruition in the first place. From the time the creative team sat in a room figuring out which models to approach through the casting and photo shoot to when they were finalizing the campaign, did literally no one within the company raise a red flag? Come tf on, guys. At this point, a campaign so blatantly tokenizing the one Black woman in a sea of white women (all of whom are stick thin, I might add) just shouldn’t happen, period.
This stunning lack of diversity was not lost on many Instagram users who blew up the swimwear line’s post with comments. Dunn’s own personal account, where she shared images from the campaign, also received some comments criticizing Solid & Striped.
One user, @semataw, wrote: “@solidandstriped was Jourdan the only girl you found ? I’m sure she would have been much more empowered being amongst a diverse group than once again being the ‘token black girl’ it’s 2018 stop making black Models feel like we should be grateful to be the only ones on a set of 500 white people – would you feel comfortable on a set of 500 being the only white…. the people who buy are from all colours and cultures so why don’t you reflect that ! I’m so sad for Jourdan and for the rest because now you’ve turned what could have been super empowering for woman of all walks to now closing your market completely. It’s 2018.”
The fashion industry has long been plagued by criticisms of poor or nonexistent diversity, discrimination, racism and cultural appropriation, although recent efforts to promote racial, body and gender identity diversity on the runways and in magazines, along with a code of conduct to protect models from harassment as well as access to private changing rooms at NYFW, seem to be moving the fashion industry in a positive, safer direction through small, but meaningful, strides. But despite progress in some areas, this feels like a ridiculous, and totally avoidable, step back.
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