Monday 22 December 2014

Tyson Beckford: Why fashion is the most racist industry in the world

Published 16/05/2014 | 09:37

Tyson Beckford claims fashion is the most racist industry in the world.

The 43-year-old star is one of the biggest male models in the world. Race is something close to his heart as his mother is of Chinese and Afro-Jamaican descent and his father is of Afro-Panamanian descent. Over the last season there has been a lot of talk about the lack of black models used by major fashion houses, which Tyson insists is a very real problem.

"Out of all the industries I find - me personally and I think that a lot of people will agree with me - that fashion is very racist," he told HuffPost Live.

"My manager Bethann Hardison has been on top of diversity and she's just now getting an award from the CFDA in a couple of weeks about trying to make a difference in the industry because there was a time where you would only see guys like me... on there. You wouldn't see Asian, you wouldn't see Latino. Fashion is a business that everyone buys clothes, from every race, so they should be represented by different models and different faces. Not just always the same blonde hair, blue eyes or the black guy with the shaved head. It needs to expand a bit."

Bethann launched the Balanced Diversity campaign last year to end racism on the runway. With the help of fashion stars such as Naomi Campbell and Iman, Bethann wrote an open later to the governing bodies of the major fashion capitals - New York, London, Milan and Paris - to call out their lack of black models.

Tyson believes the issue is a particularly important one for female models, where diversity still has a long way to go.

"This past season during fashion week, you might go to a show and it's all white girls. Not one Asian or Black or Latino girl was in it. It kind of makes that ethnic race of people feel like they're not important or being catered to," he said. "There's more diversity needed in it. But fashion is the most racist business out right now."

The model was quizzed on how the industry could make some positive changes. While in the past designers have been slammed for failing to use black models on the runway, Tyson believes others in the industry also need to make some alterations to how they work.

"I think a lot would change from the designers, the stylists, the agencies, the bookers, it all falls in their hands. If you ring up an agency and say, 'Hey, I want a hot girl, what's good?' The agency has a choice to say, 'Look, we've got this great Latino girl, take her, see her, she's the next hot thing.' Stylists can do the same thing. ... who wants to go to a flower garden and see the same flowers?" he said.

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