Does race still matter?
After talking to a new designer, I’m wondering if I need a reality check.
This designer -a 40 year old black professional woman with an advanced degree- is new with two collections under her belt. Like many designers today, it’s been hard to get off the ground. She’s wondering if it’s hurting sales that she used a black model for her clothes because a buyer said they weren’t interested in an urban streetwear line. I saw the line, it’s not urban. The styling is definitely architectural, similar to Junya Watnabe.
Without linking to her because I don’t want to put her on the spot, I would say her model is attractive and nicely proportioned. She doesn’t have any obvious tattoos or piercings (that is a turn off for a lot of people, sorry if that annoys you). She’s not a professional in that she’s skeletal but she is taller and thinner than the average woman with some upper arm definition. Isn’t that supposed to be in style now? Michelle Obama has some muscles. I don’t think this model looks “urban”, whatever that means.
I told this designer her problems were more likely related to a challenging economy and to not take the comments of one stray racist to heart. But now I’m wondering if I’m an idiot because I can’t believe that race could still matter to people in this day and age. It annoys me that someone could call this an urban line. I am well aware there is no parity of national origin in design or modeling but do people really care about the race of someone’s model to the extent they won’t buy?