Marvet Britto, brand strategist and founder of PR firm The Britto Agency, finds the whole situation ironic, considering how many fashion and lifestyle trends emerge from the black community.
"What these companies fail to realize is a) we spend billions over all sectors of industry and b) as a smaller segment, we still influence the masses," said Britto, who is black. "Most of the trends we see, it can all be traced to urban culture. It's simply been adopted and made palatable for mass consumption."
"Marc Jacobs wears his pants low. Black men started doing that in jail because they didn't have belts," she said. "Women spend money to get lip enhancements, butt implants, more tan skin. They're seeking to mimic people with ethnic features -- traits that are found in African-American women."
What's even more confusing about the white-washing of models is the fact that their presence was once strong and meaningful. What happened?
"I remember when black models were everywhere in the '70s," said Simon Doonan, creative director at Barney's and author of "Eccentric Glamour." "Issey Miyake, Yves Saint Laurent, they used so many black girls. We've gone from that to the situation now where there are these token attempts to integrate black women. It's distasteful to me. Fashion should be intriguing and alluring. What's alluring about a parade of white girls?"
It seems the heroin-chic aesthetic of the '90s stuck around long enough to meld with America's current obsession with the Barbie look. The resulting standard is bad all around.
"We're living in a very conformist time where the national ideal is a girl with blond hair, a fake tan, fake boobs and fake lips. It's a very plastic ideal that dominates our culture," Doonan said. "The hot bimbo archetype is what's screwing everything up for everybody, not just women of color."
The solution? More people like Knight biting the pale, bony hand of the fashion industry that feeds them.
"I don't think this is hard-core racism. I think it's more inertia and stupidity on the part of the fashion industry. It's lack of imagination," Doonan said. "There's a collective responsibility the fashion industry has to get their a-- into gear, come into the 21st century, open the windows and doors and see all the beautiful girls that are out there and not have preconceived ideas about it. This is reprehensible and it needs to change."