Column: Spring 2022 New York Fashion Week attempts to maintain diverse standards


Aubrey Burgess

2022 New York Fashion Week attempted to include diverse body types despite reductions in designers and capacity due to COVID-19.

Rachel Umansky-Castro, news correspondent

Models sparkled on the runway sporting various trend-setting designers including Tanner Fletcher, Eckhaus Latta and Peter Do from Feb. 11 to Feb. 16 at New York Fashion Week, or NYFW. New names like Bach Mai and Bruceglen also had the opportunity to shine as several well-respected designers like Marc Jacobs and Rodarte were unable to attend. 

NYFW was ready to adapt this year. As the event embraced a new normal,” it took on a hybrid model with 27% of the shows being fully digital, and the rest of the shows in-person with strict COVID-19 regulations such as mandatory masks, required proof of vaccination or PCR tests within 48-hours of the event. As a result the venues were not as crowded as showcases in previous years, but co-founder and designer of Badgley Mischka, James Mischka, told Glossy Magazine it was better that the room was filled with people deemed successful.  

“We didn’t just want to fill a room. We wanted to make it important people,”  Mischka said. 

Diversity became all the more visible at this NYFW. The designers that did attend highlighted diverse skin types, body types and those with disabilities. This works to destroy the ideal body type that society, and largely the fashion world, sets out for women to achieve. 

The Fashion Spot report “Diversity Rebounds Across the Board at New York Fashion Week Spring 2022” states that “New York Fashion Week Spring 2022 brought more shows along with greater diversity when it came to race, size, age and gender.” That being said, the report noted that the pandemic resulted in smaller shows this year, resulting in less diversity overall than in 2021. 

Despite this, “New York Fashion Week Spring 2022 is the second most diverse season on record with 55.5 percent models of color,” according to The Fashion Spot. The most diverse season was Spring 2021 with 57.1% models of color. 

Fortunately, within this NYFW’s top ten models of the runway, which are models that share the top spot with 10 shows each, six of them were models of color. This is a large step towards having accurate representation within the fashion industry. Designers also focused on diverse body types like plus-size models, fostering a more inclusive fashion atmosphere. 

As the Editorialist explained in reference to the diversity report, “Spring/Summer 2022 runways showcased 48 plus-size models — which, in comparison to the six plus-size models that walked in the season prior, may seem like a step in the right direction.” 

While there are diverse skin and body types represented, the fashion world is nowhere near as diverse as it should be according to previous records. The diversity report from Spring 2020 NYFW demonstrates that there were 68 plus-size models, thus holding the highest record for body type representation. 2022 New York Fashion Week should have taken previous statistics into account, and incorporated them when casting models. 

This year’s NYFW continued to challenge the beauty standard by including those with disabilities on the runway. On TikTok, trending influencer Sarah Carolyn revealed that her sister Emily will be the youngest teen with down syndrome to ever walk New York Fashion Week. Sarah herself walked the runway alongside Emily, representing the LGBTQ+ community and recovering addicts. Though these two women are making history with their accomplishments, New York Fashion Week itself has not given any publicity to the event.

New York Fashion Week 2022 tried to fulfill the fashion world’s promise of incorporating diverse models on stage even if it was not as copious as pre-pandemic representation. There still needs to be an emphasis on more diversity in major runway events so that it becomes the status quo in the fashion world. Individuals should be able to watch these events and imagine themselves as the models, tearing down the societal expectation that models are only skinny and white. We are all different and this diversity must be celebrated.