Still Whitewashed? A Look at Black Influence During Fashion Week

Bethann Hardison

New York Fashion Week sets the tone for the upcoming shopping season. Editors and buyers descend on Lincoln Center in their best-dressed to discover new collections and dictate which looks end up in magazines, advertisements and ultimately, in the marketplace. Since women of color make up a sizable and dedicated consumer base, it’s crucial that brown and black faces are present from the design room to the department store. But it’s often the case that people of color are underrepresented and ignored.

There are luminaries whose life’s work has helped expand the African-American presence in fashion. Bethann Hardison is one such agent of change. She single-handedly embraces models of color, consults with designers and invests in media that celebrates Black talent.

Designers like Tracy Reese, Stephen Burrows, Lois Samuels, LaQuan Smith, Carly Cushnie of Cushnie et Ochs and Edwing D’Angelo make up a distinguished few that have the resources necessary to present at New York Fashion Week.

Of the myriad of journalists that trickle in and out of Lincoln Center, there are a handful of exceptional editors–Essence Magazine’s Constance White, Teen Vogue’s Shiona Turini, The New York TimesSimone Oliver, W Magazine’s Edward Enninful, Michaela Angela Davis, Agnes Cammock and The Daily Beast’s Robin Givhan–that wield extraordinary power in giving media exposure to Black models and designers.