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  • Tiffany Van Boom

  • Fashion Studies (MA)

    Tiffany Van Boom
    This research evolved from the observation of the need for more diversity in the fashion world in 2020. That year has been recognized by journalists and prominent figures in the fashion industry as a turning point—a moment when marginalized communities began to call for significant change, sparking an ongoing media discussion about the need for greater diversity in fashion. In this thesis, I critically analyze the way the complex legacy of apartheid shapes the modeling industry in South Africa and how the experiences of models of color, particularly those classified as colored, add to this narrative. I ask whether the conversation about race and inequality in modeling has led to greater inclusivity in fashion. I also investigate the way marginalized and tokenized models experience the fashion industry and look at the influence of its unexpressed values on modeling in South Africa. My research includes interviews with models of color, who recount their experiences of working in the fashion industry. I examine the media representation of these models through a post-apartheid lens to develop a visual and textual analysis. I also describe my own experience as a colored model in the South African fashion industry. Through this research, I explore the question whether the fashion system in South Africa operates in a way that limits the success of non-white models. I highlight the limited impact of the dialogue on diversity and inclusion in fashion, which has resulted in only minimal change as the industry continues to capitalize on tokenized models.
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