News & Runway

Report: Diversity Rebounds Across the Board at New York Fashion Week Spring 2022

New York Fashion Week Spring 2022

Models at Eckhaus Latta Spring 2022; Image: Imaxtree

Representation at New York Fashion Week (and fashion month in general) had been impacted by the pandemic. Smaller shows and presentations led to fewer castings and sadly less diversity. It is certainly not an excuse by any means. Thankfully, the tide is changing. New York Fashion Week Spring 2022 brought more shows along with greater diversity when it came to race, size, age and gender.

We examined 1,252 model appearances across 61 presentations. A definite increase from last season which boasted 229 model appearances across 41 presentations. With gains across all categories, we hope that the downturn in diversity over the last few seasons is firmly behind us.

RACE

New York Fashion Week Spring 2022

New York Fashion Week Spring 2022 is the second most diverse season on record with 55.5 percent models of color. Only Spring 2021 had a better outcome with a record-breaking 57.1 percent.

Fall 2021 previously held the second spot with 50.7 percent nonwhite models. This season’s model castings were considerably higher (Fall 2021 only had 229 model appearances). So that obviously made a huge difference.

TOP MODELS

New York Fashion Week Spring 2022

Cara Taylor walking at Carolina Herrera Spring 2022; Image: Imaxtree

Six out of the top 10 models at New York Fashion Week Spring 2022 were models of color. American model Cara Taylor, Japanese-French stunner Mika Schneider, Angolan beauty Blesnya Minher and American model Quinn Mora shared the top spot with 10 shows each. South Sudanese-American model Achenrin Madit was just behind with nine shows.

Senegalese-Australian rising star Akon Changkou along with British models Hannah Motler and Lara Mullen, American model Aviana McClish and stunner Saibatou Toure all had eight appearances this season.

Interestingly, Annibelis Baez, who was the top model for both New York’s Spring 2021 and Fall 2021 seasons, did not make it into the top 10 this time. Although she did have an impressive six appearances.

Age and gender diversity were not featured in the top 10 unlike last season, which had transgender representation.

PLUS-SIZE

New York Fashion Week Spring 2022

Paloma Elsesser at Michael Kors Collection Spring 2022; Image: Imaxtree

This time around New York had 48 plus-size model appearances accounting for just under 4 percent of total castings. It is a marked increase from the measly six for Fall 2021. (For reference, the highest season on record was Spring 2020 with 68.)

New York Fashion Week Spring 2022

An impressive 37 of the aforementioned 48 appearances (a little over 77 percent) belonged to models of color. Paloma Elsesser and Precious Lee had a great season walking in seven and six shows, respectively. While Devyn Garcia appeared in five shows. Jari Jones, who is also transgender, graced the Collina Strada runway.

Altuzarra, Prabal Gurung, Khaite, Brandon Maxwell, Coach, Gabriela Hearst, Chromat, Kim Shui, Michael Kors Collection and Tanya Taylor each featured more than one plus-size model. But Christian Siriano had the most with nine.

TRANSGENDER/NON-BINARY

New York Fashion Week Spring 2022

Ariel Nicholson at Jonathan Simkhai Spring 2022; Image: Imaxtree

Gender diversity increased five times compared to last season. There were 30 transgender/non-binary model appearances for Spring 2022 accounting for 2.40 percent of castings. Compare that figure to just six in Fall 2021. FYI: The highest total on record is 53 from Spring 2019.

Another positive sign? This season 15 out of those 30 appearances (50 percent) were models of color. The most inclusive show by far was Chromat, which featured the bulk of the transgender/non-binary castings with eight as well as one drag queen and one intersex casting. Jonathan Simkhai, Gabriela Hearst, The Blonds, Prabal Gurung, Collina Strada, Moschino and Batsheva all had more than one transgender or non-binary model.

AGE

New York Fashion Week Spring 2022

Anh Duong at Peter Do Spring 2022; Image: Imaxtree

Models over 50 made up just 0.96 percent of castings with a total of 12 appearances. Which is one of the better numbers we’ve seen. Fall 2020 saw 10 over-50 models, while Spring 2020 and Fall 2019 tied for the highest on record with 15 apiece. The figure is also sharply up from just three for Fall 2021 and four for Spring 2021, but those seasons had fewer total castings.

Of the aged castings this season, 8 out of the 12 were white. Last season all three castings were white so there is marginal improvement. Anh Duong, who is of Spanish and Vietnamese heritage, walked for Peter Do. While Veronica Webb represented Batsheva.

Collina Strada was responsible for the majority of over-50 castings with 5 of the 12, including two models of color. Eckhaus Latta had two aged models in its lineup.

MOST AND LEAST DIVERSE SHOWS

New York Fashion Week Spring 2022

Kim Shui Spring 2022; Image: Imaxtree

A smaller cast is a key factor when assessing the most and least diverse shows of Spring 2022. Badgley Mischka and 3.1 Phillip Lim both hit the 100 percent mark with each label hiring a total of two models of color to showcase their collections. Similarly, Hellessy, Boss and Simon Miller had 100 percent diversity by each casting one model of color for their presentations.

When it came to larger offerings, Kim Shui had 33 out of 37 models of color (89 percent) followed by Prabal Gurung with 38 out of 47 (81 percent) and PH5 with 4 out of 5 (80 percent).

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Sachin & Babi had 0 percent diversity with zero models of color out of two castings. Vivienne Hu and Zero + Maria Cornejo each featured zero models of color out of one casting. Libertine had 17 percent diversity with one out of six nonwhite models. While Dennis Basso had 27 percent with 6 out of 22.

The New York Fashion Week Spring 2022 shows demonstrate promise with diversity gains across the board and the numbers returning to pre-pandemic levels of representation. Historically, New York has been the most diverse fashion capital. But we’re hoping the diversity gains continue in London, Milan and Paris. Especially given the fact that Fashion Month Fall 2021 was the most racially diverse season ever.

Stay tuned.

Additional reporting by Mark E.

Only women and non-binary models are included in this data. Models of color are categorized as those who are nonwhite or of mixed backgrounds.