By Jenni Sellan
ACCORDING to Emily Farra for Vogue.com
“the prevailing take away for Fall 2017 was this; “diversity rules”, and that goes for both your closet, (pantsuits, chainmail! Feathers!) and more importantly, the women and men who bring the clothes to life on the runway”.
Amongst the media, the sentiment is echoed with an emerging sense of changing winds and shifting sands within the fashion industry.
From startling revelations about the treatment of fashion models behind the scenes at Paris Fashion Week (we bow down, James Scully), to strong political statements on the runway in New York, and American Vogue’s March cover featuring Ashley Graham alongside Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Liu Wen, Imaan Hammam, Adwoa Aboah and Vittoria Ceretti (yes we will name them all for they are all women in this story).
And then there are the movements that are causing the fashion industry to really consider the question, what is beauty? Through projects such as the All Women Project, founded by Charli Howard and Clementine Desseaux, whose message is simple yet made powerful through big business collabs (Nike & Desigual) as they push for the representation & inclusion of ALL women, regardless of shape, colour, race and size in the fashion industry.
On the ground, during the recent Fall 2017 Ready-to-wear collections, we witnessed leading designers take heed to the public voice with significant steps toward inclusion and diversity; In New York, 27 plus sized models graced the runway; Ashley Graham at Michael Kors, Candice Huffine & Marquita Pring for Prabal Gurung and across the globe, Alessandra Garcia Lorido for Dolce & Gabbana and Katy Syme & Stella Duval for H&M in Paris (yes-even Paris).
There is no doubting the shift toward diversity and yet it’s permanence remains vulnerable; dependant on both industry influencers being bold enough to challenge the status quo (and perhaps even their own convictions about what is beauty) and the public voice continuing to speak up and demand balanced representation. Diversity and its inclusion needs to become a collective higher order value both for the individual and the industry at large.
Maya Singer penning the ultimate question poignantly; “What would happen if society threw the rule book away? What is beauty when no standard measure applies?”
In making giant strides, perhaps the greatest challenge facing the industry in this current climate, is in proving that these moves toward diversity and inclusion are not simply a token gesture in the face of political upheaval and public concern, but a determination to evolve beyond what has become ‘standard’ to create a new kind of normal; one where diversity and inclusion move beyond buzz words to a real world reality.