FASHION

How are brands breaking boundaries? The rise of diverse models

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Research revealed that SS18 fashion shows were the most diverse to date. There was a record of 93 plus-size/curve model appearances and 45 transgender castings. With diversifying ages, as 27 models over the age of 50 walked the runway — making movements towards a fully inclusive catwalk.

Of course, we still have a long way to go. With many of us taking an interest in what we wear and what’s on-trend, fashion has an obligatory duty to represent all of us on the big stage.

How are brands making changes?

It’s understood that fashion brands have been thrown into the spotlight recently. Feeling the pressure from customers and other companies to move away from focusing on one type of model and add some variety to their advertising campaigns and the faces of their brands. Some names are more open to the changes than others — so, who’s leading the way when it comes to diversity in fashion?

Women’s magazine, ELLE, made a point when they said 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. Albeit, 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 multicultural women of all colours, shapes and sizes.”

Discussing diversity on the runway might encourage people to think about skin colour. And we mustn’t focus solely on skin type — 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.

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Another issue that’s widely discussed is the size of models who walk the runway. 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.

Throughout SS18 shows, there were a record of 93 appearances of plus-size/curve models, which was up from last season’s 30 castings. Out of these 93, 90 plus-size appearances were made in New York and one report revealed that Milan was the only city to not feature a single plus-size model.

We must also think about the age of the models who are chosen to walk. It’s mostly dominated by models under 50, despite the fact that people of all ages buy clothes. 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 still room for progression in this area.

What is encouraging fashion brands to make a change?

It’s issues such as mental health and body confidence issues that should be pushing brands to make a change. Especially when it comes to something that everyone can be a part of, such as fashion. Following the increase of social media usage and the ability for customers to engage with companies quickly, brands must remember that people can easily get their voice heard if they don’t think that they’re being fairly represented. And, when we think about size and diversity, it’s clear to see we’ve seen change. But will all brands follow and will it extend to include people of all ages?

 

 

Research for this article was carried out by Trilogy Stores, premium stockists of brands such as Rixo.