Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Liberal Studies


Wayne Koestenbaum

Subject Categories

African American Studies | American Popular Culture | Critical and Cultural Studies | Fashion Business | Fine Arts | Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Ethnicity in Communication | Journalism Studies | Race and Ethnicity | Social Media | Sociology of Culture | Women's Studies


Fashion, Race, Models, Aesthetics, Women, Runway


The global fashion market is expanding every day, but often, the global fashion runways do not reflect that reality. On average, black models make up for six percent of models used on the runway during the fashion month calendar. This small percentage is also mirrored in advertisements and editorials featured in popular fashion magazines. In the 1970s, black models were met with great opportunities, and that success trickled down into the 1980s and the 1990s. As the 90s came to a close, top designers opted for an aesthetic that ultimately excluded models of color, but black models beared the brunt of that deal. Since then, the conversation surrounding racism in fashion surfaces every season, as the numbers of black models remains stagnant. Is the fashion industry racist? Who is to blame? How can the issues be addressed so that black models can thrive as their white counterparts have? Will fashion ever exist in an era that mirrors the 1970s?