2016 was a radical year for diversity in fashion, with more inclusive casting (in terms of race, body size, age, and gender) on the runways and on magazine covers than ever before. A year later, the industry has no doubt continued to make progress; the spring 2018 season saw the most diverse Fashion Month yet thanks to designers like Kenzo, Sophia Webster, Ashish, Chromat, and Tome, who all made a cognizant effort to use a wide array of models in their shows. And though designers seem to be leading the charge (and pushing the standards forward), representation across America’s biggest fashion magazines seems to be going, well, backwards.
On Monday, Fashionista released its annual diversity deep-dive of the covers of the U.S.’ most popular fashion publications, including Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, W, Teen Vogue, Vogue, and in place of Nylon (which closed its print business in September), Marie Claire. According to their findings, which reviewed 154 issues, there was a slight dip in the number of nonwhite subjects from 2016; last year saw 51 of 155 covers (32.9%) feature people of color, versus this year’s 49 of 154 (31.8%).
Despite only publishing quarterly, Teen Vogue saw the most diverse batch of covers, including Sasha Lane, Chance the Rapper, Paris Jackson, Solange, and Amandla Stenberg, as did Allure (which featured Zendaya, Alicia Keys, models Dilone, Imaan Hammam, and Aamito Lagum on a shared cover, Zoe Kravitz, Halima Aden, and Kerry Washington). It’s worth nothing, though, that magazines seemed to respond to the industry’s call for more diversity by publishing more covers each month, instead of banking on one standalone cover that featured a person of color. So when you consider the fact that six of Vogue’s 13 covers featured people of color individually (as opposed to, say, Elle, which had six different covers for April 2017), the magazine was actually the most diverse of the year. On the flip side, InStyle and Cosmopolitan were the least diverse on the newsstand with two and one nonwhite cover stars, respectively.
Age diversity was better represented this year as Allure (Helen Mirren, 72), Elle(Cicely Tyson, 92), Teen Vogue(Hillary Clinton, 70), Vogue(Meryl Streep, 68), and W (Donatella Versace, 62) all photographed women over the age of 60. In terms of body size representation, Glamour, Vogue, and Elle each featured plus-size models Ashley Graham and Candice Huffine on their covers. Fashionista also added that magazines are still lacking as far as Asian and transgender visibility is concerned. Now let’s hope the publishing industry takes this data and runs with it.
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