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Campaigners say Brazil’s catwalks “too white”

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Summary of story from the Guardian, June 16, 2011

The lack of indigenous or Afro-Brazilian models at Sao Paulo fashion week has triggered protest, with campaigners calling for a 20 per cent quota of black models on the catwalk.

Frei Davi Santos, the Brazilian race campaigner behind the protests, said: “We cannot accept the world of fashion insisting on being a stronghold for the Eurocentric.

“Sao Paulo fashion week sells the image of a Swiss Brazil where everyone is white and blue-eyed. The organisers…forget that more than half of Brazil’s population is black.”

An inquiry by Sao Paulo’s public prosecutor in 2008 found that of the 1,128 models booked for fashion week that year, just 28 were black.

In the wake of the inquiry the event’s organisers agreed to a voluntary two-year quota of 10% for black models. But according to reports in the Brazilian press many fashion labels have ignored the quota at this year’s event.

An article by Vivian Whiteman – fashion editor of Brazilian newspaper Folha de Sao Paulo – noted that bookers claimed they were not hiring more black models because: “research showed their clients still reject the combination of black models and luxury clothing.”

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