Inclusivity and diversity are two topics you’ll have seen or heard being discussed a lot recently online and in the media. Since controversial hashtags like ‘#oscarssowhite’ took the world by storm and called direct attention to the total lack of diversity among the elites of the film industry, just about every industry has been under scrutiny to become more inclusive. The fashion industry is just one area where work is being done to ensure that more people of colour and people with disabilities are in the spotlight. But is the industry really becoming more inclusive?
Models With Disabilities
We’ve come a long way in terms of making the world more accessible. There are now affordable solutions for used mobility scooters and wheelchairs available everywhere, so people don’t have to spend a fortune just to get around. In the fashion industry, steps are being made so that we’re seeing more models with disabilities on the catwalk. At 2017’s London Fashion Week, which featured 80 designers from 24 countries, Teatum Jones put the spotlight on disabled models. This is definitely progress, as people with disabilities are rarely featured on catwalk shows, however only two models were featured, Vicky Balch and Kelly Knox. During 2015’s New York Fashion Week, the FTL Moda’s AW15 show featured models with disabilities from around the world. So, where were they during London Fashion Week?
Photographed by Anton Corbijn, Vogue, July 2017
It’s become pretty clear that people are tired of seeing the same faces splashed across magazines, advertisements and television screens. In fashion, racial diversity is being tackled head on to break down the narrow-minded vision of ideal beauty that, unfortunately, much of Western society holds. This year, Halima Aden became the first-ever woman who regularly wears a hijab to walk the catwalk at New York Fashion Week. Since that monumental moment, Halima has opened up about her journey and thoughts on the industry: “The industry is celebrating women across the board, from all different regions, backgrounds and walks of life.”
Halima’s thoughts seem to be echoed in the research carried out by The Fashion Spot, who found that more women of colour walked the runway than ever before in 2017! However, when we actually examine the statistics, they show that there’s still a long way to go. Using data collected from 241 shows and 7,035 model castings during the Fall 2017 season, The Fashion Spot found that 72.1% of the models cast were white and 27.9% were women of colour. This is a shocking contrast, highlighting how unbalanced the fashion industry still is.
The emphasis on moving away from a very fixed and limited idea of beauty extends beyond race. We’re starting to see a wider representation of body types on catwalk shows too. This is hugely important for improving the self-esteem of women around the world. The same report by The Fashion Spot found that New York was leading the way with body diversity this season, with 26 plus-size model castings. On the other hand, Europe is falling behind in representing plus-sized models, only two models walked in Paris and Milan!
The fashion industry has come a long way in a short space of time, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to make it more inclusive.