2018 saw the fashion industry showcasing an increasingly diverse range of models. With 45 transgender models, 93 plus-sized models, and 27 models over the age of 50 taking to the runway during the SS18 collections, the catwalk is becoming so much more inclusive.
But there’s still room for improvement as the fashion industry continues on. There’s such a wide variety of people with a passion for fashion, and the industry has a duty to represent them within their sector.
The fashion industry has felt a lot of pressure lately to include a more diverse range of models and faces to its campaigns. Some names are more open to the changes than others — so, who’s leading the way when it comes to diversity in fashion? 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 the issue of diversity in fashion if brought up, it is often under the issue of showing different skin types and skin colours, as well as a more varied cultural background. 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.
People often highlight the need for a more varied display of body shapes and sizes 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.
In AW17, we only saw 30 plus-sized models, where SS18 showcased 93, proving how the industry is changing. 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.
Often neglected though, the consideration of a model’s age has been brought to the foreground recently. It’s 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.
Do high-fashion brands need to evolve?
There’s a huge push for inclusivity and diversity to be given a spotlight. 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.
When it comes to cultural diversity and size, the fashion sector is certainly making strides towards change, but there are clearly still areas, such as over 50s representation, that can be addressed moving forward.
Research for this article was carried out by Trilogy Stores, premium stockists of brands such as J Brand jeans.