Gucci, Pre-Fall 2017 – Driving Diversity Forward?

The fashion house has been teasing the world with audition videos of its pre-fall 2017 campaign on its social media channels. The major talking point is, that currently, the videos only feature black models. The modelling industry is no forerunner in ensuring fair representation of cultural diversity. Therefore, such a step by Gucci could be lauded as a step towards greater racial inclusion. For the moment, we are sitting tight to see what else the fashion house reveals.

Gucci has previously been criticised for its lack of diversity, with only one model of colour in its Fall 2016 campaign. Furthermore, only fourteen percent of its models on the runway were non-white. This season, the luxury house seems to be taking a bold step in the opposite direction. At the point of writing, it has released audition videos of nine models, apparently all featured in the campaign, and all of whom are black.

“these campaigns still remain anomalies in the fashion world”

The videos show the models answering questions like ‘What is your spirit animal?’, and ‘What does it mean to have soul?’ The models are also requested to show off some dance moves, a task that some carry out better than others..! Indeed, movement seems to play an important role in the upcoming campaign. A spokesperson for Gucci told Business of Fashion that “[d]ance is an important part of this story and consequently the casting reflects this.”

This choice has been welcomed by many, and hopefully marks the beginning of a positive change for the brand, with more diverse campaigns to come. Indeed, this follows Kenzo’s move in releasing a short film advertising its resort and men’s spring/summer 2017 collections featuring a diverse cast of dancers. However, these campaigns still remain anomalies in the fashion world. Unfortunately, efforts to increase diversity are not being made by most other players in the industry. According to a report by the Fashion Spot, only 25% of models on Spring 2017 runways were non-white.

“diversity should be the norm”

While racial diversity doesn’t seem to be making any progress in leaps and bounds, there have been improvements in other areas, most notably with the debut of transgender model Hari Nef in Gucci’s Fall 2016 menswear show. Having a single campaign featuring only black models does not fix the diversity problem in fashion; it is only a small step into having fully diverse campaigns that include models of all gender identities, ages, sizes, races, etc.

Yet, Gucci’s campaign should be given its due praise, as despite it being 2017, few brands have featured solely black models, or models of colour, surely, in the 21st century, diversity should be the norm. We should not find such campaigns ‘ground breaking’ because we should expect them.

Gucci’s campaign undoubtedly broadens its appeal and at just the right time. Consumers want to see diversity and advertisement campaigns succeed not by appealing only to industry insiders, but by making a connection with the person on the street. Even if the main motive of the campaign is an attempt to divest the brand’s name from being associated with a pattern of non-diverse campaigns, it is sure to make an impact, not only in the industry, but also on ordinary people. Here’s hoping it inspires other brands to follow suit.

Molly Barratt

Image Credit: rawartistmedia via Flickr – License.

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