The New York Times ran an article yesterday titled, “In Fashion, Who Really Gets Ahead?” in which it explores whether there is gender discrimination in fashion in response to Tara Subkoffâ€™s (designer of the label Imitation of Christ) accusation that fashion “is a gay man’s profession.”
The article brings up some good points, and there is no denying that gays are demographically overrepresented in the fashion industry (it’s called self-selection), but in my opinion, the article didn’t meet high journalistic standards in approaching this debate.
Phoebe Philo, head designer at fashion powerhouse Chloe
First, it mentions how Project Runway’s “cast of 16 includes 8 male contestants, 7 of them gay.” But fails to mention that a) Project Runway is produced and hosted by Heidi Klum and b) a woman, Kara, was the long-time front runner from last season (even though she didn’t win) and of the final three last season, two were women. Also, it cites Queer Eye and a new Style network show with Isaac Mizrahi as evidence that people are seeking design advice from men, without conceding that the long-time overpopularized red carpet guru Joan Rivers has been dictating what qualifies as the best and the worst in fashion for decades.
Besides that, the article doesn’t even mention Stella McCartney and Phoebe Philo – two huge players in the fashion industry that have arisen over the last several years. And while it mentions that Prada’s head designer is a woman, Miuccia Prada (who they acknowledge as “arguably the most influential designer of modern times”) it fails to mention Prada’s sister line conceived by Miuccia: Miu Miu.
Designs from Stella McCartney’s Spring 2006 Collection
While the article does cite The Council of Fashion Designers of America’s membership and the Perry Ellis awards for young talent to illustrate it point of gender differences in fashion, perhaps it could have included evidence that substantiates women as a strong presence, such as the designer roster for New York Spring 2006 fashion week – of the 67 designers that I could tell their gender straight away by their names, 35 were women (which for those of you who aren’t quick at math, is a little over half). Perhaps the reporter didn’t include an analysis like this because it didn’t support his somewhat tenuous argument.
Other (accomplished) female designers who conspicuously remain unmentioned: Diane Von Furstenberg, Tamara Mellon (founder and president of Jimmy Choo), Betsey Johnson, Carolina Herrera, and Anna Sui.
The article did raise some interesting questions, and gave some balance to the debate, but in my opinion, it didn’t explore gender issues in fashion fully enough. What do you think?