The fashion industry has called for more diversity: But has it really changed?
Gone are the days of size zero supermodels
Since the 200s the fashion industry has gone through a significant transformation. These changes have been widely seen as important steps in the right direction and have provided a platform for broader conversations about diversity and inclusion within the industry. However, the events of the summer of 2020 have demonstrated that there is still much work to be done to achieve true diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry. Despite these conversations and promises of change, the fashion industry is still struggling to fully embrace diversity and inclusivity.
For years, the industry has perpetuated harmful stereotypes and unrealistic beauty standards, promoting a narrow definition of beauty that excluded people of colour, different body types, and individuals with disabilities. As society becomes more diverse and inclusive, the fashion industry is being called upon to reflect this change.
One significant shift that has taken place in recent years is the move away from the "size zero" supermodels that dominated the industry in the past. Brands and designers are now showcasing a more diverse range of body types on the runway, from curvy to plus-size models. This change has been driven in part by the body positivity movement, which seeks to promote self-love and acceptance of all body types.
Similarly, there has been a push for greater representation of people of colour in the industry. While progress has been made, there is still a long way to go. Black models are still significantly underrepresented on the runway, and those who do make it to the top often face discrimination and mistreatment. In addition, many brands and designers have been accused of cultural appropriation, using elements of different cultures without proper acknowledgement or respect.
The summer of 2020 was a turning point for the fashion industry, as the Black Lives Matter protests swept across the country. In response to this, many companies declared their support for people of colour and the Black community but has the industry kept its promise? Despite the growing presence of people of colour on global runways, statistics show that they remain vastly under-represented and rarely acknowledged in the industry, their accomplishments and potential achievements are often dismissed.
"Many try to fake it on set, producing ashy-looking make-up or creating frizzled damaged hair in the process."
“While I am new to the industry it didn't take me long to realise that don’t know how to work with dark skin ’,” she tells me.
“ I often end up giving make advice to the professionals behind the scenes. “
This has historically been a problem in the fashion industry, where certain races were favoured over others and a limited range of beauty standards was upheld. Ultimately, stereotyping and tokenism are the greatest concerns. This has historically been a problem in the fashion industry, where certain races were favoured over others and a limited range of beauty standards was upheld. Ultimately, stereotyping and tokenism are the greatest concerns. Certainly, this narrow view of beauty continues to discriminate against people of colour, perpetuating harmful and outdated stereotypes that have no place in modern and inclusive society. The fashion industry needs to embrace a wider range of beauty standards and celebrate the unique features and characteristics of individuals from diverse backgrounds.
This shift towards greater inclusivity is not only important from a social justice perspective but also makes good business sense. Consumers today are more conscious of social issues and are more likely to support brands that prioritize diversity and inclusivity. Ultimately, it is up to the fashion industry to continue to challenge itself to do better when it comes to issues of diversity and inclusion. By promoting representation and celebrating different perspectives and experiences, the industry can help create a world where all individuals feel seen, valued, and celebrate.
“It’s a huge problem” Jamesshares Alex james a professional fashion photographer of 16 years.
“This is why we have partnered with betrue models campagin.”
Alex says she often gets negative feedback from clients when she proposes models of colour for big jobs:“
“I’ve asked my advertising clients so many times, ‘Can we use a black girl?’ They say no I am often surprised by the number of people I work with who have no idea on how to light or work with people of colour. It is like I am constantly trying to battle ignorance on set.”
“As a white person, I am aware that a black photographer or hair stylist would have to work twice as hard when it comes to different hair textures and creating looks while white hair stylists get to opt-out. Often my models of colour will show up on set with their own makeup products/wigs and that is not ok .”
Fashion designers can have a significant impact on representation and diversity in the fashion industry. Through their creative decisions, they can choose models, clothing styles, and accessories that reflect a wide range of cultures, backgrounds, and body types. Additionally, they can use their platform to raise awareness and promote inclusivity in the industry.