Too Expensive For You

YSL with black models

We all know about Oprah’s shameful discriminatory experience at an upmarket boutique in Switzerland whilst shopping for Tina Turner’s wedding (Tina Turner’s wedding news is amazing).  Oprah was being judged by the colour of her skin and, according to some journalists who have since analysed the story, the discrimination was also due to her weight.

This story broke in the same week that the New York Times published an article on the disgraceful racism in the fashion industry especially when casting for models in shows.  The newspaper interviewed former supermodel, Iman for the article and she noted that instead of progress the fashion industry has actually regressed.  Iman hails from the supermodel era and she spoke warmly of designers such as Gianni Versace and Yves Saint Laurent loving black models.

As an independent designer, I used to only use white models in photo shoots as buyers would comment that my clothes looked ‘too ethnic’ yet the same dress on a white model was acceptable.

I’ve written on this subject before and I believe that the fashion industry does indeed have a race problem and it’s more endemic than we realise.  Non-white women seem simply to not exist or at least we are not worth marketing to.  Ethnic is an unfashionable word and certainly not an aspirational luxury adjective.


2 Comments to “Too Expensive For You”

  1. Very shocked to have come this interview with Oprah, even more so that the shop tried to explain it away as the assistant not being able to speak English very well… And you would put her front desk in Tom Ford? Unlikely

  2. Quite disgusting behaviour, from this Swiss shop assistant, from the shop owner trying to justify the said disgusting behaviour, and from the media reaction trying to dismiss the behaviour of this assistant for a variety of reasons – be it colour of skin, weight or wearing scruffy clothes (I didn’t realise Donna Karen was scruffy).

    Racism is very much alive, it’s just become a dirty word, just like saying you’re a feminist. I know they are completely different things, but the press is just as quick to condemn a woman of being a raving feminist as they are to dismiss accusations of blatent racism.

    My solution is speak with your wallet – don’t shop at this boutique, and by fashion that targets everyone. It may require a few changes to your shopping habits, but it’s not impossible.

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