Robin Givhan Weighs In On Fashion's Diversity Problem And Bethann Hardison's Plan Of Attack

Fashion Week officially starts Thursday and while we're looking forward to the shows, our anticipation is riding high as we wait to see what Bethann Hardison has planned for her social media campaign aimed at designers who aren't using black models.

The fashion industry veteran and former model has dedicated much of her career to shining a light on the issue and is relentless in her pursuit of change. Last month Hardison told The New York Times that one reason for the lack of diversity within fashion is accountability or, in her words, that “no one in power slaps these designers around." So, this Fashion Week Hardison is reportedly organizing her own kind of shake-up. Nothing has launched yet, but we can't wait to see what she has up her sleeve.

And we're not the only ones. Robin Givhan recently chatted with The Cut about Hardison's pending plans and "fashion's blind spot." The Washington Post contributor and Pulitzer Prize-winner told the site that she admires Hardison's commitment to the cause, especially since the issue keeps rearing its ugly head.

"I admire her patience because, honestly, I can remember the first story I ever wrote about how homogenous the runways were, and it was like 1996, 1997," Givhan told The Cut. "It just keeps coming around and at a certain point you do wonder, why is this so difficult to grasp?"

That's the million dollar question. While we continue to scratch our heads and grow frustrated in the absence of an answer, Givhan believes that we're on the right track. She sees "incremental progress" but believes that things haven't changed because we're trying to fix the issue by "integrating the runways in a way that is less dependent on an aesthetic mood for a season, and focused more on a moral obligation."

We get it. Forcing or shaming designers into using black models rather than them doing it out of the kindness of their hearts isn't ideal. In a very clever comparison, Givhan contends that if the fashion industry had the same "power and influence on the culture at large" as baseball, the problem of diversity might be solved. When Congress steps in to regulate a spectator sports, you know the public is serious about upholding its sanctity. Givhan argues that the same sentiment could hold true for fashion.

"And you realize it’s because we as a culture, or at least some people in our culture, take sports really seriously, and they believe that it represents something about who we are, about our belief in fair play, and they recognize that that has an impact on younger people. I don’t think that fashion will really change until that same sort of recognition happens."

Head over to The Cut to read Givhan's full interview where she also talks about Fashion Week and her upcoming book "Battle of Versailles."



Robin Givhan