2016 Was the Year U.S. Fashion Mags Upped Cover Diversity


In 2016, seven out of eleven Teen Vogue covers featured nonwhite women: Amandla Stenberg, Simone Biles, Willow Smith, Zoe Kravitz, Gabby Douglas, Yara Shahidi and Fernanda Ly all faced forward on newsstands — a jump from its four out of seven covers in 2015. Per a recent report, Teen Vogue is not the only fashion publication to improve its cover diversity this year.

Fashionista looked at 10 U.S. fashion magazines: Allure, Cosmopolitan, Elle, Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, InStyle, Nylon, Teen Vogue, Vogue and W — the same titles whose cover diversity Fashionista compared from 2014 to 2015. “The results were not encouraging.” Numbers raised from 19.7 percent to 19.8 percent.

This year, “52 of 147 covers — or 35.3 percent — starred people of color*, as compared to 2015’s 19.8 percent. That’s a 15.5 percent rise.”

(The asterisk led to this disclaimer: “*As with last year, for the purpose of this story, nonwhite included those of mixed race and of Latino or Hispanic descent. It’s important to note, however, that racial identity is very much a social construct and fluid depending on borders.”)

Where international publications are concerned, The Fashion Spot reports that “29% of cover models were women of color” — a “fairly respectable” 6.2% increase from 2015.

These are important improvements, but there is still so much more room for growth overall when it comes to diversity in the industry (which includes race, size, gender, sexuality and their untangle-able intersectionality). According to The Fashion Spot, racial diversity was down at Spring 2017 NYFW compared to Fall 2016. Body diversity, though better-represented than past seasons on the Spring 2017 runway and in the media, is still problematic for non-straight-size shoppers.

Diversity is not a trend, it’s a global reality, and this is a global industry. Readers, shoppers, fans, followers all want to see themselves — on covers, inside publications, on runways, on blogs. In terms of representation, change is happening. Here’s looking forward to 2017.

Related: Five Women of Color Get Real About the Fashion Industry.

Amelia Diamond

Amelia Diamond

Amelia Diamond is a writer, creative consultant, and Man Repeller alumnus living in New York City.

More from Archive