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