Ralph Lauren - Runway - September 2019 - New York Fashion Week

role model

Joan Smalls hopes inclusivity on the catwalk isn’t just a fashion trend

The Puerto Rican supermodel talked about the changes she’s seen when it comes to diversity during her decade on the runway

Like trends and celebrity FROWS, the subject of diversity in the fashion biz rightfully arises pretty much every fashion week. As New York Fashion Week reaches fever pitch with the spring-summer 2020 collections, Puerto Rican supermodel Joan Smalls is speaking out about what she’s learned in her ten years on the catwalk. The 31-year-old beauty, who has starred in campaigns for designers from Gucci to Tom Ford (she made a stunning appearance in designer/director Ford’s front row on Monday), tells Porter magazine that she has seen an increase in inclusivity in fashion – but she hopes its more than just a passing fad.

Joan stepped out for the Tom Ford show on Monday

“The fashion industry has become more open to inclusivity – and to not having just one girl of color or a minority on the runway,” she said in the interview. “I remember when I started out, I was [often] the only one that fitted that quota, or there’d be two, or none. Now the industry's more accepting.”


Still, it seems like there is plenty of room to grow in the industry which has long been criticized for only one definition of who is worthy of being on the catwalk: “I want to see a continuation of it and for it not to be just a phase... I want it to be because it's the right thing to do.”

Faces of fashion: Joan Smalls, Candice Swanepoel, Lais Ribeiro, Lily Aldridge and Sara Sampaio at the YouTube party during NYFW

In the Porter interview, Joan describes herself as “a little spicy, crazy at times, but a good crazy”, but, she adds: “I’m just being myself. There’s a saying in Spanish that goes, ‘No soy un billete de cien para caerle bien a todo el mundo.’ It kind of means, ‘I’m not a hundred-dollar bill, so I know not everybody’s going to like me.’” 

As one of the highest paid models in fashion, with a yearly income of around $8.5 millionit’s clear that there are plenty of people who do! 

More about