Friday, September 10, 2010

Is Standard Style's fashion magazine too white for Kansas City?

Posted By on Fri, Sep 10, 2010 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge What does diversity mean in local fashion magazines?
  • What does diversity mean in local fashion magazines?

Break out the cubes of cheese and dodge the Naomi Campbell-propelled cell phones: It's New York Fashion Week, Kansas City! It's high holiday for those of us who care way more about hemlines than linemen.

Despite all the preening and superficiality associated with fashion, the industry is candidly grappling with issues of race and racism. It seemed that with all the race talk, the industry was taking steps to bring a few more shades of beauty to its pages and catwalks. Even local women's mag HerLife had a black cover model in its August 2010 issue.

So with all this in mind, I was a little taken aback by Standard Style's largely lily white Spring/Summer 2010 fashion magazine.



Standard Style is a

local boutique that carries high-end designer clothes for men and

women. Along with fashion shows, the store has a magazine. In a

nine-page

spread called "A Place in the Sun" -- where a model wearing a $400

Diane von Furstenberg dress scampers in a field meant to evoke the

Serengeti, of all places -- there is one brunette. The rest of her safari pals are blondes, ranging from honey ash

to platinum. My race-dar detected only 1.5 nonwhite minorities in the

magazine. To the best of my knowledge, there were no Asian or black

models in the women's section; the guys' spreads were all white.

I contacted Kristin Coulson, a spokeswoman for Standard Style, to ask about the mag's whiteness. She responded quickly with links to images of diverse models used in

the store's fashion shows, videos and ads.

Yet, few of them landed in the pages

of their magazine, available online (a

third issue is coming soon; Coulson said it featured two Hispanics and

one Navajo Indian).

"If you say we

don't have diversity in our advertising and marketing --

that's your opinion and not based on fact," Coulson said via e-mail. "We

use a variety of ethnic models

INCLUDING black models."

DSC_0095_thumb_200x298.jpeg
Courtesy

of 385 Agency

A model represented by

385 Agency.

Nicholas Segura, owner of 385 Agency, says it's questions like

these that made him start up his commercial modeling agency, which

represents ethnic models.

"One of the big

white elephants [in the industry] is the complete lack of diversity,"

Segura says. A lack of minorities within a group's staff trickles down

to their advertising and products, he says. If diversity isn't reflected

within your business, it's harder to be aware that it's a problem.

Segura

said the "silver lining" is the increasing diversity in this country.

With different races to cater to, it may hit businesses where it matters

most: their wallets.

"I'd love to say, 'Standard Style, you

should be more diverse.' It shouldn't even be said," Segura says. But he

says the lack of diversity at places like Standard gives his agency

more opportunity to represent "beautiful, ethnic people that are in

Kansas City."

Maybe it's an issue of the trends happening on the

coast taking awhile to come to the Midwest. But the conversation needs

to happen, especially in a segregated town like Kansas City. Local

fashion publications could stand to be more representative of the people

in their city, who aren't all fair-skinned and blond.

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