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André Leon Talley Talks Fashion’s Diversity Problem

Image: Jeff Grossman/

Image: Jeff Grossman/

André Leon Talley is one of the most influential people in the fashion industry. The former Vogue editor has worked with the likes of Andy Warhol and Anna Wintour, and has been a fixture in fashion for a long time. His gig on America’s Next Top Model brought him into the mainstream consciousness, but even with all his success, particularly as a person of color, the Zappos Couture artistic director believes the industry still has far to go to address its diversity issue. You know, the one that never seems to die. Talley sat down with The Huffington Post to explain.

“How many African-American or any diverse ethnic individuals do you have at the heads of any of the high niche magazines or high niche design brands?” he asks. “You can count them on one finger.” Indeed there are few people of color in leadership positions in the industry. “Can you name a black designer that you know who has a huge brand? No. There is not one.” Talley asserts that in spite of what liberal-minded members of the industry might say, prejudice is real, subconscious and inherent in our culture, and some people are comfortable ignoring it.

“How many people are there that have broken the glass ceiling?” he asks. “There are very, very few. And you know the world has really not changed and you have to be acutely aware of the world around you. One of the reasons that I think the world has not changed, being a black man, is that people try to look at me without color, but color is always there.”

Talley says that in spite of his stature in the industry, he still struggles to meet some of the goals and milestones he might have otherwise enjoyed. For example, that ALT talk show we’ve been dying to see still hasn’t come to fruition. “There are ceilings that I have not broken that I should have broken already and one is television. And it is always shocking to me how many people have tried to get me a television show of my own.” 

It is simply criminal that Talley doesn’t have his own show, actually. But as we wait for that dream to come true, Talley and other people of color in fashion have no choice but to soldier on in hopes of making the necessary breakthroughs so that the industry is more inclusive. 

[via The Huffington Post]