The fashion scene isn’t what it used to be. The days of endless runways packed from end to end with models of the same pale race and unrealistic body type are beginning to fade into the distant horizon. A variety of the fashion game’s top campaigns like Christian Siriano and Michael Kors are slowly beginning to pave the way for a brighter, more diverse industry (slowly, but hopefully surely?). For those in attendance of the last few years’ worth of New York Fashion Weeks, the change is evident. There has seldom been a time where so many different body types and personalities are portrayed on the runway: from the shameless curves of Ashley Graham to the angelic glow of Imaan Hammam.
This new venture of inclusiveness attempts to represent a range of fashion consumers by allowing them to see themselves reflected within different platforms, a “no-duh” move that comes better late than never. It’s been too long that lovers of fashion like myself have been reduced to viewing the diversifying styles of clothing on the same one-dimensional body types that come nowhere close to my own. Perhaps, when the industry was full of fantasy images, intentionally unattainable, it was acceptable to cast the beloved models whose bodies looked completely different than ours (though there’s no doubt the lack of diversity was alienating and unforgivable); now that they’re trying to represent the daily fashion consumer with the street style aesthetic, there’s definitely no excuse. This trickle of diversification is nowhere close to a tsunami of inclusion that will wash up overnight, but it is a start.
However, now that there is depth to the fashion industry, the hard part is convincing the media to shy away from the same models and campaigns that they’re accustomed to, and give emerging new-wave brands a chance. This gradual transition is aided by the adoption of diversity in big brands’ -- Nike, Aerie, the otherwise problematic Dolce & Gabbana, to name a few -- inclusion of plus-sized models, but there still exists a sizable gap between diverse budding campaigns and the media that should be covering them.
Last season, theFashionSpot reported that up to 26 plus-sized models walked the runway, a pretty significant amount considering the industry’s track record with models of varying sizes. Brands like Torrid and Chromat pushed along this milestone, and plus-sized fashion consumers across the world rejoiced after seeing a refreshing influx of curves walk the runway. Yet, when it came to print advertising last season, plus-size women consisted of merely ten percent of campaigns, a statistic that doesn’t add up to the body positivity expressed on the runway. The same trend appeared again when it came to age diversity which increased on the runway yet plateaued when it came to widespread media coverage. If there’s such an increasing amount of runway diversity, why isn’t it being publicized as much as it should be? What is the point of showcasing this diversity if you’re hesitant to let the rest of the world in on this glorious secret within the fashion industry?
While the answers to these questions may not be clear as of now, all hope is not yet lost- contrary to popular belief, the world of fashion is not all doom and gloom. Inclusion of models of color is dramatically snowballing, to the point where theFashionSpot reported that every New York Fashion Week showing on their roster of last season contained at least one model of color. This seemingly small point of improvement is, in actuality, a big step in an industry that is not the most familiar with inviting people of color into the gates of their exclusive society. The racial diversity is surprisingly one ‘trend’ that continues to grow on the runway as well as off. In fact, last season’s ad campaigns were more racially diverse than their on-stage counterpart.
This is the perfect example of a turn in the right direction of diverse media coverage, although, we still have a long way to go. Hopefully, this season will outshine its previous counterparts in the field of diversity and, for once, the diverse brands will be abundantly covered. There are plenty of campaigns out there that stray away from toxic societal norms, it’s just a matter of whether they’ll be introduced to the rest of the world who are more than happy to welcome them with open arms.
Banner Image: Chromat SS16. Image 2: Chromat SS17. Images via Getty Images.