Racism in Fashion – Betwixt Capitalism and Democracy

A Daily Mail article (“’We have one black girl, we don’t need you’: Victoria’s Secret Angel Chanel Iman reveals racist attitudes from the fashion industry”, 21 March 2013) has the following passage from a photographer:

“I’ve asked my advertising clients so many times, “Can we use a black girl?” They say no. Advertisers say black models don’t sell.”

The quote raises one issue: popular racism or ethnic parochialism affecting sales (the claimed problem according to advertisers); very likely another (unmentioned) factor is institutional prejudices arising from personal bigotry at the top rungs of the corporate fashion hierarchy. Some industries are more plagued by this than others, and fashion seems to be one of the big offenders.

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