Kereen Hurley is working to change the diversity issue within the fashion industry. Specifically within London’s fashion industry where’s she previously worked as a model. New York Fashion Week has been making more of an effort to include a diverse cast of models. But London still has a lot of work to do. That’s why Kereen started Choco Media Models, the world’s first agency for dark-skinned women.
Kereen started her agency back in 2016 and in just two years she has 13 models signed. These women go to music video, hair and cosmetic shoots.
In order to make real change, mainstream media and fashion outlets have to take notice and start booking dark-skinned girls. In an interview, Kereen stated she’s receiving inquiries from other women wanting to join her agency. She has the girls, now all she needs is for people to start hiring them.
While the issue to overcoming diversity issues within fashion is multi-faceted, Kereen revealed that tokenism is keeping back dark-skinned models. From her experience, the fashion industry would only take on one dark-skinned model for a photo shoot or on the runway.
I had trouble joining agencies if they already had a dark-skinned model. There was no space for me.”
The issue when we talk about how diverse a fashion show was is that it isn’t exclusively measuring how many dark skinned models walked in it. It’s also including size, age, and all races.
That’s not to say that the current measure of diversity is bad. It isn’t because it’s driving more representation. We just need to break it down to answer what kind of diversity are we seeing?
We need more agencies like Kereen’s and we need more people on the mainstream levels to fight for this diversity as well. That power to change the landscape lies in the hands of not only visionaries like Kereen but fashion designers as well.
In the end it’s the designer who has the final say as to which models get cast in the runway shows or photo shoots. Designers like Christian Siriano and Becca McCharen of Chromat have made it a point to cast a diverse group of models each season. It’s time we spoke up even more and demand that more designers start casting dark-skinned models.
As fashion enthusiasts with the world at our fingertips, we can help Kereen and Choco Media Models reach a mainstream audience. Go follow them on Instagram and tell your friends about it. Share their content wherever you can and credit them for it.
The fact that Kereen started this modeling agency at just 23-years-old while still in college is an accomplishment itself. Now instead of focusing on her modeling career, she’s sending models who may have faced struggles getting an agency to sign them to the same jobs she once went to.
This is just the first step in a much needed fight to include dark-skinned women in fashion shows and photo shoots. Every girl should be able to flip open a magazine or watch a fashion show and see a girl that looks like her. Lets help make that a reality.
Cover image via Kereen Hurley Twin0