Addressing Issues Surrounding the Representation of Women of Colour in Media and Fashion Media | By Fiona Pitt
Canberra Institute of Technology fashion design student Fiona Pitt approached me a little while ago asking about the models who have worked with me. Initially I thought well there's not much to it; I pick models based on reliability, personality and confidence, and if I'm presenting in a group format they need to compliment each other, the collection's vibe and be able to walk with style. Model's are as important as the clothes and I love the ones I have worked with. They give their time and energy to represent SZN, and its no easy task!
I have also pasted below the original Q&A from Pitt which informed her completed essay on the topic (click pic above). I find it a very interesting and well constructed read. While even I had interpreted some of the examples she uses as case studies differently, like all well written work, she has referenced widely and thought deeply about her position, which I respect. Discourse and different opinions are always welcome at SZN and I invite considered comments.
Why are you using models of different ethnicities?
All my models were selected on their ability to communicate a sense of the SZN style. I look first to personality and how someone moves, and this is not necessarily to say that they should move 'like a model' its more an awareness of sometime lack of awareness of their own interesting traits.
Was this a conscious choice to increase diversity? Is there another reason for your decision?
I consciously select each model for their merits, and while I find some ethnicities stand out more just due to there usually being less of a particular ethnicity at castings, I still choose according to my label's aesthetic. SZN is the articulation of diversity and this is both representative of my process, lifestyle, values and aesthetic. I'd rather 13 unique looking and thinking models than a uniform appearance.
Why, or why not, is ethnic diversity important to you?
Ethnic diversity is very important to me, not just as a reflection of the society we live in, but it is how I was raised and would like my fashion landscape to look. Different cultures, body shapes, physical features and socialisations should be a consideration for every designer. I hope that stereotypes of style, design and eras are not perpetuated, and do not disregard the cultural value that fashion has and can have.
Why is it important to consumers?
Same as answer above and below, consumers should be reflected in the products they intend on engaging with.
Do you think ethnic diversity is especially important in fashion for any reason or it equally essential in all media forms?
It is equally important in all forms of media, the images we create and disseminate have the potential for social discourse, whether its aspirational, representative or indicative, media is a summary of the time and it should speak to and about what is going on in our society - and not just the part of society that speaks, or has the ability to speak the loudest.
[Editor's note: the term 'diversity' is used loosely here in regards to ethnicity and appearance. I in no way believe that adequate 'diversity' has been achieved by SZN in regards to ethnicity, body shape/type, sex/gender, ability, age, context, function, artist/performer, status, location etc.]