While the LGBTQ community has long considered androgyny to be a mainstay in queer style, it is currently having “a moment” in the mainstream fashion industry, where androgyny is often viewed as a trend that comes and goes, rather than an integral part of some individuals’ identities. Since 2013, there has been a rise in the number of fashion articles celebrating androgynous women, mostly white, who are challenging fashion’s gender rules. Androgynous women such as Ruby Rose, Elliott Sailors, Erika Linder, Kris Gottschalk and Casey Legler are the new style influencers, gracing the pages of high fashion magazines and landing jobs modeling both “menswear” and “womenswear” on international runways. Though these models are welcomed game changers, the same opportunities being afforded to them are not being equally afforded to women of color (WOC).
Lack of diversity is a problem deeply woven into the fabric of the fashion world. 90 percent of the models in the world’s top fashion weeks are white and 80 percent of the models in New York Fashion Week are white, not to mention the shocking under representation of non-white models on a broader scale throughout the industry. WOC models aren’t being hired, and even when they are, they aren’t being celebrated. Androgynous WOC fashion icons, such as Grace Jones, have paved the way for the androgynous models of today. Further, today’s androgynous WOC models are just as spectacular and glorious as androgynous white women models. So, with New York Fashion Week casting in full swing, we present to you 5 androgynous WOC models you should know.
Ghanaian model Destiny Owusu, who is currently the face of luxury beauty brand The Lip Bar, started the hashtag campaign #IsYourMelaninOnFleek to encourage WOC to “embrace their melanin and never, ever be ashamed of it.” Instagram: @ohwawa