Why is diversity such a big challenge for fashion?
Diversity in fashion has become one of the most discussed issues in the industry. Recently, British Vogue photoshopped the cover of its March issue, which featured a collective photo of supermodels, and an obvious mistake revealed how they tried to make the plus-size model Ashley Graham look thinner. However the thickness of plus-size models is not the only problem. The racism, ageism, body-shaming and other –isms are the main challenges for this industry, which for hundreds of years was based on image of slim white girl as the ideal model. And we should admit it, that situation changes all the time.
Business of Fashion, a renowned website that handles data from the industry, revealed that in 2016 four major fashion weeks showed more that 25% of coloured models, with New York leading positions with 30.3%; and also this year had the highest numbers of plus-size and older than 50 years models appearing in the runway. London embraces the trend, and this February we have seen more models of older age than ever. Also, the advertising campaigns by major fashion brands like Dolce&Gabbana and Celine capture the silver-age models.
But it would be naïve to believe, that brands and designers are determined by their aspiration to fight for equality of any type. More likely, they just follow the trend with the purpose of looking ethical and socially conscious.
Another factor influencing the growing diversity in fashion, are marketing reports. Experts say, that diversity of any kind is a good way to attract attention of diverse groups and reach to wider audiences, so it seems that fashion brands aim to be the first who capture this rising trend. The reports also show, that almost 70% of all women have size 14+. This means that designers have to work for this audience and consider the fit for such types of figures.
Another point is that the new trend is not as widespread as we can suppose when reading the optimistic reports in professional media. The Telegraph reported in spring 2016, that only 1,4% of models in advertising campaigns were plus-size, and only 21,8% of other colour than white. The situation is changing, but the pace is extremely slow.
But let’s add optimism: the issue with the photoshopped Vogue’s cover has become a scandal immediately. A decade ago the issue would be considered as a common practice. But now people care, and the problem of diversity in fashion will not be ignored any longer.