Time to Publicly Shame Fashion Designers

Fashion Week's runways are still staggeringly white, and one woman is calling out clothing designers.

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Last time, I was being pushed to say something by a few key people. This time, a group of us started talking about what was going on, and we decided we needed to do something more. It has been planned since April. We decided to write a letter because I don't have 15,000 people on my staff to stuff envelopes and mail things. We needed to get the message out, and sending it to the organizers of the shows was effective.

It was time. Time has gone by and people are offended. People who work in the industry get offended by what they see: that the industry is just going through the motions. Designers feel terrible being called racist. But putting it out there was the only way it was going to start [and get their attention].

TR: What kind of response have you received?

BH: People on the street have come up to me to say how proud they are. The designers have mainly been quiet. The British Fashion Council wrote to me to say they wanted to talk. One designer in London wanted to know why he was called out, because historically he has included many models of color. We were basing our research on the shows in February 2013, when he only had one.

This is a wakeup call that it is not enough to have ... one Asian girl and think that's enough. I had Asian models at my agency when no one had any. I had three.

TR: Has there been any backlash since you sent the letter? You have gotten so much media attention via the New York Times, WWD, Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight, among many other outlets.

BH: That's funny to me. If [designers] aren't afraid of legal ramifications, why should I be? I was just talking about what the designers displayed on their runways. If there [were] any backlash, what would it be? They won't invite me to their fashion shows anymore? Or send me any clothes? I have nothing to lose.

Honestly, no matter what their intention was with their casting, this is the result of it. And many have taken notice. One hundred six media outlets caught the WWD story and wrote about it the same day.

TR: What are your thoughts about this New York Fashion Week and the plight of models of color?

BH: I am always happy to bring fun to the party. This, to me, is that. Fashion Week is corny to me at this point. I kept saying to the coalition that this is going to be fun. When we do things like this, it helps to shake things up.

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