HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège
HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège

Diversity in Women's Luxury Fashion Shows: Is Diversity Becoming Fashionable?

Ouarab, Nora ULiège
Promotor(s) : Delcourt, Cécile ULiège
Date of defense : 21-Jun-2023/28-Jun-2023 • Permalink :
Title : Diversity in Women's Luxury Fashion Shows: Is Diversity Becoming Fashionable?
Translated title : [fr] Diversité dans les défilés de mode féminine de luxe : la diversité devient-elle à la mode ?
Author : Ouarab, Nora ULiège
Date of defense  : 21-Jun-2023/28-Jun-2023
Advisor(s) : Delcourt, Cécile ULiège
Committee's member(s) : Ferrara, Charlotte ULiège
Language : English
Number of pages : 76
Keywords : [fr] Diversity
[fr] Fashion Week
[fr] Race
[fr] Body Size
[fr] Age
[fr] Luxury Fashion
[fr] Body Positivity
[fr] Black Lives Matter
[fr] Thin Ideal
[fr] Ageism
[fr] Critical Race Theory
Discipline(s) : Business & economic sciences > Marketing
Target public : Researchers
Professionals of domain
General public
Institution(s) : Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique
Degree: Master en sciences de gestion, à finalité spécialisée en international strategic marketing
Faculty: Master thesis of the HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège


[fr] The luxury fashion industry has faced criticism for its lack of diversity, particularly at fashion shows, where a narrow standard of beauty centred around whiteness, thinness, and youth has prevailed. This has resulted in a limited representation of women of colour, plus-size women, and older women. However, societal values and influential movements like Body Positivity and Black Lives Matter have spurred a growing demand for diversity within the industry. Millennials and Generation Z, in particular, have used social media to advocate for authentic representation and have played a crucial role in raising awareness.
The purpose of this study was to assess the evolution of diversity within luxury fashion shows between 2010 and 2022.
For this study, we conducted a qualitative content analysis using a coding grid developed to assess a series of diversity dimensions: racial diversity, body size diversity and age diversity. To ensure a comprehensive assessment, we used established scales and information from modelling agencies. Our analysis focused on four major luxury brands - Chanel, Gucci, Ralph Lauren and Burberry - known for their influence in the industry. In addition, we selected four luxury brands associated with various designers and creative directors: Balmain, Ferragamo, Carolina Herrera and Erdem. To study the selected fashion week shows in more depth, we used a modified Framework for Image Analysis, examining six lenses: Idealization, Exclusion, Colour-ism, Exoticization, Body-ism, and Age-ism. In addition, we analysed the opening and closing slots of fashion shows, as these slots enjoy considerable prestige and influence. By assessing the inclusion of models of colour, plus-size models and older models in these slots, we sought to measure the level of recognition they receive.
This study reveals positive changes in the diversity of fashion shows between 2010 and 2022. Racial diversity has improved significantly, with models of colour becoming more prominent. However, progress in terms of height and age diversity has been limited. Thin and young models still dominated the catwalks, with an increase in “very skinny” models and models aged between 20 and 29. Only three brands featured plus-size models and six brands featured older models. These results highlight the continuing difficulties in achieving true diversity in luxury fashion. Much remains to be done to authentically represent women of different races, sizes and ages.
In conclusion, the luxury fashion industry has made significant progress in terms of racial diversity, but progress in terms of size and age diversity remains limited. The slow progress in diversity can be attributed to long-standing beauty standards, which emphasise whiteness, thinness and youth. Overcoming these entrenched norms requires a major effort to challenge and redefine traditional concepts of beauty.



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