Bethann Hardison's Thoughts on the Current State of Runway Diversity

The activist notes improvements made in industry since she launched campaign.

Posted: 01/23/2014 09:22 AM EST
Bethann Hardison

Bethann Hardison has taken it upon herself to wave the banner for runway diversity. In a recent interview with Modelinia, the activist gave an update on changes that have been made and where she hopes the fashion industry goes next.

"There have been improvements that were both nice and unexpected," Hardison said. "The New York shows were featuring three, four, even five models of color, compared to just one or zero the season before. London also made slight improvements, as did Paris. However, the most surprising improvements were in Milan, where Georgio Armani used a model of color to open the show, Prada used five models of color, which is almost unheard of, and Jil Sander incorporated several models of color while they usually use none. There was a noticeable shift in energy last season, and I think people suddenly felt out of their comfort zone, which is a good thing."

Hardison also listed how the Balance Diversity campaign she launched with fellow former models Naomi Campbell and Iman have reached past the runway and into fashion editorials and ad campaigns. That said, she hopes changes continue to come and that young models understand that if they're coming across barriers, it's because the system needs to improve and not because something is wrong with their talent.

"The Spring/Summer shows often have more models of color, so the real challenge will be getting the Fall/Winter shows to reflect our global diversity," she said. "That would be my dream come true. I just want to see the design houses keeping up the momentum and continuing to improve with each season. It's been really nice building my relationship with the CFDA to support the message of diversity within the industry. I hope American Vogue will continue to reinforce this need for diversity as well. I also hope that we're able to get more models of color to the shows in London, so the designers have more options when it comes to casting, and can make their runways as colorful as the world really is."


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(Photo: Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

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