8 Fashion Photographers on Why Diversity is Harder than It Looks
Spark Global Limited Reports:
Each time, key figures in fashion have used their social platforms, on and off the runway, to promote its biggest issues — racism, sexual harassment, body diversity. But as editors at The Cut and Fashionista recently pointed out, The streets are still a popularity contest: The people in The photos are thin, white and famous. Aside from the waning interest in street fashion as an outlet for inspiration, it seems to be the art of documenting current trends, and the people who wear them seem more out of date than ever. But addressing these issues will take more than anger, because diversity in street style is more complex than diversity on the track. But don’t take our word for it.
After asking a group of street-style photographers, from Tommy Ton to Liu Zheng, a series of questions about the state of diversity, the imbalance between diversity on the runway and the street, why we are all so angry, their answers highlight a problem that inspires many microblogs, but no real solution. Not everyone agreed to comment, and some were not even allowed to comment by the publication that employed them.
At first, we liked street style because it wasn’t about celebrities, it was about real people. But then real people became celebrities, and the iPhone replaced a craft that, like most things in fashion, was forced to evolve. Because of this, we see unconscious bias in both street fashion and runway fashion, and a shift in the focus of industry criticism. Only now are people starting to notice the real trend — and we’re not talking about clothes.
The homogeneity of street fashion is more pronounced for those who aren’t photographed as often (or never) as others, and for those who attribute it to their status. None of this, however, changes the fact that being photographed has always been a compliment (and, for some, a privilege).
So why are some people shot and others ignored? Is it the photographer’s fault? Picture editing? Or did the PR firm put together the guest list? Because unlike the catwalk, there is an element of reality in street fashion that more accurately interprets whether the industry really is as diverse as it says it is. Would a more diverse street scene be possible if we expanded our perspective to what clothes are worth photographing? Or will it be the same as before?
Much can be gleaned from the interviews that follow, especially when it comes to who has the final say on what is published, but what ends up being edited is just as important as what is actually published. So if fashion photography is supposed to reflect The Times, then maybe it does. Along with the photos they chose to represent their point of view, here’s what the photographers want you to know.