The plague of white male creative directors

White men keep getting the top jobs. What does this mean for diversity in fashion?

September saw the last of gifted genius Sarah Burton as creative director of Alexander McQueen. Not long after news of her last show broke out, came news of her soon-to-be replacement, Sean McGirr. This change leads all of Kering’s creative directors to now be white. And male. In 2023.

PARIS, FRANCE - SEPTEMBER 30: Designer Sarah Burton bows during her final show as Creative Director at the Alexander McQueen SS24 show during Paris Fashion Week at Le Carreau du Temple on September 30, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dave Benett/Getty Images for Alexander McQueen)
Supermodel, Naomi Campbell walks runway for Sarah Burton's final collection for Alexander McQueen.

And unfortunately, Kering is not the only one.

In an environment where inclusion and diversity are often the topic of choice, especially in spaces like the fashion industry, it is disappointing to see how many steps we’ve taken backwards. Fashion brands including Moschino and Blumarine are also participants in this hiring mess as David Renne and Walter Chiapponi are headed to be creative directors also.

X user @chloeikennedy shares a tweet breaking down the statistics of creative directors under fashion conglomerates with disappointing figures.

It demonstrates the uniformity of white men overpowering POC and women at the top of the fashion industry. The only three POC men appointed as creative directors are Pharrell Williams at Louis Vuitton menswear, Maximillian Davis at Ferragamo and Olivier Rousteing at Balmain.

Only eight luxury creative directors are women, some of these including Donatella Versace for Versace, Maria Grazia for Dior and Nadège Vanhee-Cybulski for Hermès and only one out of eight – Sandra Choi for Jimmy Choo – is a woman of colour.

Fashion lovers have expressed their irritation through social media platforms including Instagram. One user, commenting under a post from 1Granary said: “Zero surprises about this. Where I work in the last year, I’ve heard a white gay man referred to as a ‘diversity hire’. The bar is not even on the floor, it’s buried under the basement.”

Another added: “It’s a white men’s world, still. Emphasis on men and white.”

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A post shared by 1 Granary (@1granary)

The Kering Foundation – which is financed by Kering – recently hosted a caring-for-women dinner as a fundraiser for NGOs addressing violence against women.

But some commentators are unimpressed. Instagram user, @stefanidelao, comments: “And last month, the Kering foundation hoopla about supporting women is just like their sustainability initiatives. A façade.”

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