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The Fashion Runway Through a Critical Race Theory Lens

by Sophia Adodo

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The fashion runway is one of the most innovative arenas within fashion. Trends emerge on the runway and are a focal point for designers, fashion industry members and society as a whole. New York Fashion Week presents top designers during fall and spring seasons and these brands present their fashions on models carefully selected according to their aesthetic and preference. The lack of diversity on the runway continues to be an issue within the fashion industry as a whole and this study utilizes Critical Race Theory to analyze the model selection of ten American designers. A content analysis was employed to explore how race is displayed by five Non-white and 5 White designers during fall and spring of 2011 to 2015. Results showed that there are significant patterns present on the runway for both white and non-white designers. Themes surrounding hair and makeup, placement of the MOC and types of clothing worn were seen on the fashion runway. These results can promote a dialogue within the fashion industry that can open up many more opportunities for diversity on the runway.

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