The Need For Diverse Representation In The Fashion Community

A rack of clothes is the background. Overlaid is the title : Guest post - The need for diverse representation in the fashion community.

Today I’m sharing a guest post a little different to the norm. I’m a strong believer in challenging the concepts of beauty, celebrating all bodies in their wonderfully unique, different forms, shapes, sizes, orientations, colours and abilities. It’s important for brands, models and companies to push the boundaries. We need to be more accepting of others and of ourselves, loving ourselves as we are rather than seeing unrealistic, distorted versions of ‘normal’ and ‘attractive’. Enough of my rambling, let’s get on to the guest post looking at the need for diversity in the fashion world.

Diversity In Fashion

Last year, fashion shows really shone the spotlight on diversity. The SS18 collections featured 93 plus-size and curve models, as well as 45 transgender models. More recently in the SS19 collections, Prada’s collection was opened by black model Anok Yai, the first time a black model has opened for the brand in 20 years. 

New York’s SS19 runway featured 44.8 per cent women of colour, and London’s catwalk models included 36.2 per cent women of colour. But not only does this representation need to further grow, it also needs to broaden to include a wider range of underrepresented people. 

A model at a shoot surrounded by other models as someone holds a camera to take her picture.

Fashion Diversity : The Change

Brands in the fashion world are no stranger to pressure from their customers to better represent them within their marketing. Some names are more open to the changes than others — so, who’s leading the way when it comes to diversity in fashion? 

The truth is, there’s a fair few leaders! ELLE pointed out that designers such as Marc Jacobs, Ashish, Zac Posen, Demna Gvasalia and Prabal Gurung have consistently invited women of colour to walk in their shows. But, supermodel Naomi Campbell warns that she doesn’t want women of colour and the appropriation of their cultures in fashion to be a fad that designers are using to gain attention: “We don’t want to be a trend. It’s the skin we’re born with and will spend the rest of our lives with until we leave [the Earth]. You’ve got to really think ahead now. Think differently and think what readers want — that’s the only way to keep their interest. People want to see multi-cultural women of all colours, shapes and sizes.” 

A head and shoulders shot of a larger size model with a darker skin tone. It's more of a profile photo, with her looking up and smiling.

When diversity is brought up, the initial thought tends to be regarding skin colour. We mustn’t focus solely on skin type, though — transgender and non-binary people are making themselves seen and heard in the fashion industry, too. During SS18’s 266 major fashion shows, 45 transgender models and four non-binary models walked major and semi-major catwalks. AW17 saw only ten transgender models taking to the runway, and in SS17 only eight. So, it’s clear that we are seeing change and transgender models, such as Teddy Quinlivan, are leading the way. 

Representing different sized models is important too. With the widespread introduction of plus-size influencers and models that are in the spotlight for marketing campaigns for non-luxury brands, you would think that designers of the catwalk would make changes, too. Although we’ve come a long way from curvy women being banned from walking in catwalk shows, it’s still a reality that a lot of high-fashion designers produce samples at a size six or below and some don’t sell garments that are larger than a size ten. 

What about older models on the runway? Currently, the catwalk is mostly dominated by models under 50, despite the fact that people of all ages buy clothes. We did see a few brands such as Eckhaus Latta, Creatures of Comfort and The Row cast older models for their shows but in reality, only 0.2% of those on the runway for Fall 2018 shows were 50 or above. It’s clear to see that there is a long way to go when it comes to progression in this area. 

The Need For Diversity In Fashion

A larger size model with long brown hair, wearing a black and white stripe top and black skirt.

People are more aware than ever of the need for support in body confidence and mental health. This support needs to be shown en masse, especially when it comes to something that everyone can be a part of, such as fashion. With the rise of social media and ease-of-engagement for customers with fashion brands, brands must remember that people can easily get their voice heard if they don’t think that they’re being fairly represented. 

Change is certainly underway, but will it continue in the same vein of growth? 

Research for this article was carried out by Trilogy Stores, premium retailer of women’s straight cut jeans.

[ Sources ]

Elle /Refinery29 /The Independent /LivingIt

[ This is a sponsored guest post & as such the ideas expressed here are that of the author. ]



  1. April 1, 2019 / 4:37 pm

    Terrific story and important to continue to raise awareness – MIX’d it

    • April 3, 2019 / 11:32 am

      It’s getting really good feedback so I’ll aim to write some more of my own posts on the issue (which should come with a warning as this topic can make me so angry!) Thanks, John! And cheers for Mix-ing 🙂

  2. April 1, 2019 / 4:48 pm

    Good post. There needs to be more support for body confidence. We need to reverse this judgemental world we live in

    • April 3, 2019 / 11:30 am

      Absolutely – 100% agree!

  3. April 1, 2019 / 5:34 pm

    This only makes sense. Consumers are more likely to be heavier than a Size 1 (or 0). I’d prefer my models to reflect that!

    • April 3, 2019 / 11:30 am

      Exactly, and when you think how little of the population fits the profile of the average model it seems utterly ludicrous. x

  4. April 1, 2019 / 9:48 pm

    YES! Well said!

    • April 3, 2019 / 11:26 am

      I feel I could write my own impassioned post soon on ideals portrayed in the media and fashion industry and how ridiculous they are, while having dire consequences on mental health. Glad you liked this one, Richa. x

  5. April 2, 2019 / 10:35 am

    I work as a personal stylist Caz and the amount of women that have body issues is huge. I had one lady at the weekend concerned that her meeting was with smaller ladies and she felt uncomfortable attending. Good post,

    • April 3, 2019 / 11:25 am

      I’d like to be a personal stylist. Like everything else, I feel I could give the suggestions and advice better than I could ever take it myself (if you see what I usually wear day to day, you’d see what I mean!) It is incredibly sad, and infuriating at the same time, that so many people have body issues to varying degrees. I really do hope that lady you had over the weekend attends that meeting and holds her head high because I’m sure she’s far more concerned about her body than anyone else is, as they’ll all be too concerned with their own. Thank you for sharing, Tracey! xx

  6. April 2, 2019 / 11:09 am

    very good guest post! There’s a lot that the fashion industry can do to better mirror actual society. Overweight models have been a long time issue with them because they’ve always opted for the super skinny. But at the same time, designers don’t make their first collection of clothing in a bunch of sizes to accommodate different sized models. The reason behind the “one size” model is that designers wanted to make one size for their shows and one size only so that it was easier to dress the models. With a change in size and gender comes a lot more challenges but these are good challenges because it targets the stigma of the “hungry model” who can’t eat food because then they won’t fit the dress.. It also forces the industry leaders to think about other body types and how their clothing actually fits on people. I learned a saying from working in the construction equipment rental: There’s the way that the manufacturer designed and built a piece of equipment and how they say it should be used and then there is the way that it is actually used on the job site. So there is a body type that designers design for and then there is the body type that actually goes into the store to buy it: two different body types.

    • April 3, 2019 / 11:23 am

      You are absolutely right, and that’s such a good point. An interesting way of looking at it when it applies to equipment, how it’s designed and intended to be used, versus how it’s used in reality, in a normal setting. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, really excellent comment! xx

  7. April 2, 2019 / 11:25 am

    An excellent post Caz. I am surprised it has taken the fashion industry so long to wake up to the reality that their buyers are a diverse group of people in all shapes and sizes.

    • April 3, 2019 / 11:21 am

      It really has taken a very long time. Still a long way to go, but at least the awareness is there now and small changes are happening, which is great! x

  8. April 3, 2019 / 7:53 pm

    Some good points here. There’s a need for representation of people with disabilities too, as something that happens as a matter of course, not some kind of special promotion.

    • April 5, 2019 / 3:39 pm

      You’re right, rather than it being a token effort or being celebrated for being so novel, it should be a common thing that’s done naturally and regularly. Thanks for the comment, Kirsty! 🙂

  9. April 3, 2019 / 9:38 pm

    I totally agree — recently I was pleased to read about how indeed there are some clothing designers making a good living by making clothes for the disabled. hopefully this trend will grow

    • April 5, 2019 / 3:39 pm

      I love that there are increasing producers for more specific needs when it comes to fashion. I saw a large supermarket store doing clothing for those with breast cancer, for instance. Fingers crossed the trend of recognising all people and all needs will grow. Thanks for the comment! 🙂

  10. April 4, 2019 / 5:59 pm

    Excellent guest post. I am please that there are emerging transgender and non-binary models as representation is so important. But more seniors on the runway would be great. I know my mom is fashion forward and would appreciate it! I hope to look as amazing as her when I’m her age. I’m sharing the post to the When Women Inspire Facebook page now!

    • April 5, 2019 / 3:37 pm

      More seniors would be excellent, after all, they wear clothes too! Has your mum ever modelled? It’s silly to think certain people or ages get sidelined because the common thought is that they’re not as interested in the market, or don’t represent enough typical buyers. We want to see more diversity, age/appearance/ability are not factors for exclusion. Thanks for sharing it, Christy! 🙂

  11. April 6, 2019 / 1:54 pm

    Absolutely amazing Caz and I couldn’t agree more with every word! It is 2019 and everyone needs to grow with the times! I think the world would be boring if we were all the same. I enjoy learning from others that are different from myself and think it is always a great experience!

    • April 6, 2019 / 10:14 pm

      Grow we the times, exactly. And yes, the world would be such a stupidly boring place if we were all the same! It’s the variety, the diversity that makes us unique and amazing. Thanks, Alyssa! 🙂

  12. April 8, 2019 / 5:56 pm

    I LOVE this post, Caz. This is a really big hot button issue for me. I am so tired of the programming going on in today’s world. It starts when we are tiny kids. If your hair or skin isn’t this color, well, you simply aren’t attractive. If your body isn’t this size, doesn’t have this shape, well, sorry, you don’t belong either. The list goes on and on. It’s tiresome and sickening.

    I get angry because we have folks committing suicide thinking they aren’t worth anything. That they aren’t beautiful. How TRAGIC! Beauty is not found in an image you see anywhere or in your own mirror. If what’s in your heart isn’t beautiful, you don’t have much going for you (in my honest, humble opinion).

    This shaming of men and women for not looking like what’s expected needs to stop immediately. Helping people love, honor and respect themselves only leads to more love being expressed for everyone else. Self love (not self centered) is absolutely gorgeous. ♥ I want everyone to know they’re worthy of love – both within themselves and from others.

    Thanks for writing this post Caz.. I can only pray the changes continue for the better and people start to realize they can stop trying to be someone else because they’re already perfect.

    • April 10, 2019 / 4:16 pm

      Your comment is absolutely spot on, Holly. Everyone should know and feel in their heart that they’re good enough, just as they are, that they’re worthy of love from themselves and others. Thank you for such a fantastic comment, Holly, I really appreciate it! ♥

  13. April 11, 2019 / 10:35 am

    Great post. This really resonated with me after spending years cultivating a really unhealthy relationship with food to fit the norm it’s great to see brands expanding to include people of colour, transgender and older women along with people of larger sizes. But I totally agree that it cannot be a trend agenda. We all must strive to make lasting change in these areas by supporting those that are supporting us.

    • April 11, 2019 / 12:13 pm

      I’m sorry you know that unhealthy relationship with food and body pressures/standards all too well too. Exactly, we need to make lasting change, it can’t be a fad, it needs to stick and be part of a wider shift in social thought. Thanks for the great comment! x

  14. April 12, 2019 / 12:47 pm

    Body confidence definitely came a long way. It’s great that fashion industry is changing and improving. This is so well written, lovely post dear. xx

    • April 13, 2019 / 1:47 pm

      It’s definitely good the industry is changing for the better, let’s hope it keeps going in the right direction! Thanks Azra, glad you liked the post 🙂

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