As fashion labels see increasing opportunities for sales growth in Asian countries they’re filling up runways with Asian models. Early reports from New York Fashion Week held earlier this month show a striking rise in the number of Asian models on the runway but insiders warn the industry is still very racist.
The unprecedented number of Asian models at New York Fashion week comes two-years after American Vogue forecasted the "new wave." Despite the fact the magazine has never featured an Asian women on it’s cover in the 40-plus year plus history, it proclaimed Asian models are "redefining traditional concepts of beauty."
Asian models on runways isn’t anything new, Marie Helvin, born to an American GI father and a Japanese mother, walked the runways in the seventies. Jenny Shimizu was all over the place in in the 1990s. Most recently Liu Wen became the first Asian face of cosmetics giant Estée Lauder and also Victoria’s Secret first Asian Angel.
What’s news here is that now you can’t have fashion show without an Asian model.
"Five seasons ago, you would be hard pressed to find one show or one season, one complete season in New York, that used even one Asian girl. And now you just wouldn’t have a show without one. And we’re actually, you know, fighting over them," casting director Andrew Weir told Reuters in a video interview.
Ray A. Smith, tallied up the numbers for the Wall Street Journal and echoes what New York runway casting directors are saying: "While it has been rare for designers to feature more than two Asian models in a show, several this year, including Michael Kors and Jason Wu, used three or more. Overall, at 10 major brands’ shows, there were 26 Asian models, eight more than those brands used in the previous New York Fashion Week in February."