Is Fashion Inherently Racist?

Updated on Oct 25, 2011

Comments (29)

phillipthenickel on November 22
I think it's a little racist to have Asian Themed Shows. It's all well and good to dress someone in a way that offsets their different skin tones or body structure, but if there's an entire show that's just about it having Asian models, that seems like a bit much.
remmi22 on November 19
It is a gimmick. The Exotic Asian is a profitable stereotype that has been in the West for 100+ years. Exoticism sells. Likewise, the East prefer their Caucasian models have very light colored hair and colorful eyes that do not, if very rarely, occur in Asians.
Tazleigh on November 15
you could call anything in fashion racist at some point, and i agree with michelle2119, if they do use models of a different race then they have a "motive", and if they don't, then it's just racist. i dont understand people who think this way. Caucasion people are a dominant race in america, so i think that it's not racist. designers choose what style looks best, that will bring more money
remmi22 on November 19
It's not the use of Asian models that is racist but how they're all stylized in the same stereotypical fashion. The Western media does have a narrow expectation for what Asian features are. Many think Asians who dye their hair, wear colored contacts or care about double eyelids are trying to be "Western", all because they break the stereotype of Asians having dark features and small eyes.
OnTheGanges on November 15
I think the 'rise of the Asian model' is a good thing, considering in the Western world not too long ago, we would have been really closed minded about the idea. Perhaps more companies should learn a better way of executing this (not making all models look alike) but it's a step forward. I like seeing different nationalities of models because of looks and body type variety.
TheCrayolaEffect on November 13
FINALLY!! An article drawing up the REAL conversation! THANK GOD! :)
michelle2119 on November 13
this is funny. if the designers don't used asian models then everyone is all like thats racist, but when they do, its because they have a "motive".
MegWhite_ on November 09
"Asian models have “redefined traditional concepts of beauty.” -aren't Asian women THE traditional concept of beauty in, you know, Asia? Which is most of the world. If you ask me, all models are always made to look the same and they all look alike to me. There are also many different types of white (or Caucasian) people living all aroun the world and "normal" white models hardly represent us all.
aribear22 on November 07
That is a gorgeous photo, and if we're moving away from the carbon-copy idea of beauty and embracing true, uniqque beauty, then I'm all for it! (:
hunt4anarnia on November 05
I really didn't get the point being made here? All I see in the photo for instance is beauty!
cgallagher716 on November 01
...(continued, haha) As for inherent racism, I don't think fashion is necessarily racist, but it's definitely misrepresentative! The concept of exoticism is certainly racist to a degree, but it's still a product of offensively safe representations of diversity.
cgallagher716 on November 01
Great article. I think that's a really important issue you address, and it extends to the homogenization of women in general. By using these unvaried (albeit stunning) women to represent such a broad category as "Asian", we in turn compress millions and millions of diverse women. The same thing applies to African American and Latina, among other ethnicities...
belladupink on October 31
totally agree,,, I dont know why we always have to deal with a world in which only one race seems to be good!... Colors make beauty, size and different structures make art! .. I think the media its racism.. they always have to use the term Asian, white,black, Latin.. instead of other characteristics of a certain model..We r the one who can change that not.. the designers! We r the one who buy!
cirquedusolame on October 31
(Eek! Cut off.) 2. The impact of an action, no matter how well-intentioned, is just as important as the aim. We can discuss how fashion industries "at least tried," but was it executed in a way that wasn't inherently derogatory, appropriating, or disrespectful? Even if the intent wasn't to be offensive, it's important to address that if it comes off that way, folks are still responsible.
cirquedusolame on October 31
Great article! I wanted to mention two things: 1. When we talk about racism as "pulling the race card," we use connotations of frivolous card games to trivialize the oppression behind it, which allows for folks to disregard the seriousness of racial discrimination.
Ladytiki on October 31
Well said!
Chabri on October 31
well thought out article. thanks for sharing!
RealFantasies on October 31
How can you talk about racism when bringing up one of the most modern and remarkable designers today, Riccardo Tisci? The Asian models were merely supposed to underline the Japanese influence of the collection, and attract potential clients (we all know the future of the luxury market is in China and India). Besides, Lea T., Tisci's muse, is a Brazilian transexual: how can anyone call that discri
Chocosioco on October 30
Thanks for sharing this wonderful article
boredstephanie on October 28
I completely agree, great article =)
RepublicofHeaven on October 27
Thanks for this post. I have to say, being "colour-blind" is kind of racist in a Galliano-ranting-about-Jews way, in the sense that it ignores how racial identity really impacts personal identity. I would say that fashion (as should all industries) should be race conscious--understanding that racial background is important. Let's just avoid making them exotic "others" by diluting their culture.
cirquedusolame on October 31
Totally second that!
Humming on October 27
Great article.
JyaDi on October 26
read disgrasian. i quote jen wang when i question "redefining traditional concepts of beauty". haven't asian women always been beautiful?
driftwoodanddaydream on October 26
Excellently put! I'm currently taking a Chinese film course and we often examine how Chinese directors themselves choose to exoticize China for Western audience. It's a gimmick to sell their films, much like how these designers are using Asian ('cause you know, their all the same) models. It would be one thing if the designers were choosing these models based solely on the aesthetic and not
driftwoodanddaydream on October 26
the race of the model but alas, apparently we have not progressed that far.
Bemysummertime on October 26
very interesting and eye opening article x
TamQuoia on October 26
Love this. Good job!
maryiangge on October 26
cheers to all asians!
irisanddaniel on October 26
Loving this article, really great! If we think about the fashion industry, all of the models do have a very similar look, so the idea that a chosen "trend" race would reflect the same problems seems to be an obvious reason why this happens. The only way to really step away from this is to take out that novelty factor because it's strange that if a "new fashion ethnicity" is shown, it's always in
irisanddaniel on October 26
a context where ALL of them are that ethnicity. "The Black Issue" or "The Asian Issue." If fashion wants to move forward to be inclusive, there needs to be an incorporation of these different looks with no pretense of shock.
janeinparis on October 26
filipina on October 26
great article! a real eye opener.. :)
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