The buzz around the all-black Vogue Italia continues, and rightfully so. A mainstream magazine used models of color — and the world didn’t end. This time, the Today show picked up the issue for a panel discussion featuring former model Veronica Webb, marketing expert Jerri DeVard, and Elite’s Neal Hamil. The conversation ranged from host Hoda Kotb noting that though the models in the spreads were all black, the ones in the ads were mostly white, to Webb equating this to Obama running for president and Will Smith saving the world.
But when asked who was to blame for the lack of diversity in pages and runways, the answer was unanimous. Hamil pointed out that Elite’s boards are full of color and that the decision to book certain models lies with casting agents, photographers, and magazine editors. Webb went even further: “You need more people who are power brokers. You need more black photographers, there’s not many. I can count them on my hand, the ones who work. You need more black editors, you need more black hairstylists, make-up artists. The more people there are in the industry, behind the scenes, making the decisions — the change will come.” Having worked in the industry for 10-plus years, we gotta say Webb has a point. Fashion editorial staffs are generally as diverse as the spreads you see in most mags. But hey, if Vogue Italia can do an issue (an issue in which advertising was also up 30 percent), change certainly is possible. —Amina Akhtar