Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Protesters Push Brazilian Fashion Industry for More Diversity on the Catwalk

Quick, think "Brazilian Fashion" and what comes to mind? For most it's probably skimpy bikinis with outrageous thongs worn by models who tend to look like the two lovely ladies pictured at left from a blog about the 2013 Fashion Week in Rio de Janeiro.

Don't worry I'm not going all pervy on my blog or anything, my question was actually inspired by 'Black is the New White at Rio's Fashion Week' a really thought-provoking radio essay on diversity in the Brazilian fashion by Claire Lancaster on today's edition of PRI's 'The World'.

She notes that over 50% of Brazil's population of over 201 million is comprised of people who are of African descent (a testament to the vast scope of the African Slave Trade), yet the vast majority of models seen strutting down the catwalks of Rio or Sao Paulo or in Brazilian fashion campaigns tend to be those of German and Italian descent. Case in point Giselle Bundchen; arguably Brazil's most famous model ever.

So where are all the models of color in a nation with the largest population of black people outside of Africa? As today's edition of 'The World' notes, a growing movement of protesters in Brazil are calling for that nation's fashion industry to address that very question. There have been demands for more diversity on Brazilian catwalks for years, but now according to PRI a non-profit charity based in Sao Paulo called Educafro that advocates on behalf of poor Brazilians of African descent has reached an agreement with the organizers of Brazil's Fashion Week to establish quotas for models of color and indigenous models to be represented.

It's a start and it's got the backing of Rio's Public Attorney but time will tell. In the meantime give Claire Lancaster's essay a listen for yourself.

And let's not forget, Brazil certainly doesn't have a monopoly when it comes to lack of racial diversity in fashion. Check out this piece from Neon Tommy by Gabi Duncan dated September 15, 2013 on the lack of diversity at New York's Fashion Week and a group calling themselves the Diversity Coalition trying to do something about it.


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