The absence of diversity has been an ongoing issue within the fashion industry since its origin. The lack of representation has been apparent and often it seemed like there would never be a change. However, recently due to the growth of diversity movements there has been an increase in inclusivity. The fashion industry is starting to represent our society. This year has been extremely overwhelming to many, with constant unexpected events occurring and changing lives forever. Instead of focusing on negatives, this article will discuss the key most inclusive and positive fashion moments that have happened in 2020 so far, which have made the industry become more inclusive and diverse.
The industry’s response to Coronavirus racism
The growth of Coronavirus isn’t the only thing that has been spreading. Xenophobia and racist assumptions about the virus grew as quickly as the number of infections. Phillip Lim, the creator of the 3.1 Phillip Lim label, and Prabal Gurung are two designers that have decided to speak out against the anti-Asian racism associated with the virus. They have created various pieces of clothing such as hats and t-shirts. The profits made from these items are being used to support the All Americans Movement. This is a cross-cultural campaign which was created to support communities affected by Coronavirus.
Both Lim and Gurung have used their social media platforms to support the movement and combat negative assumptions. They want to not only stop the virus but also racism. They aim to spread a message that creates a discussion about racism as well as encouraging Asian communities to support each other to challenge stereotypes. By launching items that support the movement, these designers are creating a more inclusive industry, one that is not afraid to speak up about relevant and current issues.
Brands supporting the Black Lives Matter movement
Black Lives Matter is a movement that stems from the violence and racism that black people face each day. Many large brands including Nike and Adidas have released statements supporting the Black Lives Matter movement. The two well-known sportswear brands have put aside their rivalry to spread the message further. Nike changed their popular ‘Just do it’ slogan to ‘For once, don’t do it. Don’t turn your back on racism”. A message that urges their followers to stand up against racism and no longer ignore it. Adidas then shared Nike’s message and followed it with a statement; “Take action. Things won’t change unless we bring about that change”. The solidarity between two of the biggest sportswear brands delivered a powerful message, encouraging us all to come together to fight racism.
By declaring their support for the Black Lives Matter movement, these brands are giving visibility to the racial issues that are present around the world. Companies need to bring attention to the ongoing racial issues that are ruining lives. Brands often shy away from addressing social issues. They don’t want to associate with anything that can impact their image. This time it’s too serious to stay silent. The fashion industry must use its voice. Adidas has promised to also fill a minimum of 30% of new positions with black people to increase representation within their company. They are also planning on donating $20 million over four years to support black communities . This is a key moment in the industry, showing the impact that brands can have.
Knix Lingerie’s response to ageism
The fashion industry is known for focusing on youth. It’s a well-known fact that runways are packed with young models, and older people are rarely represented. Clothes are being made with youthful shoppers in mind. Fashion brands must consider being inclusive and representing different age groups. The grey market is constantly growing due to the rise in the population of older people.
Knix is a lingerie brand that has decided to push for a change this year. When creating their International Women’s Day 2020 campaign, they decided to create a video called ‘Age Doesn’t Matter – A Message from Knix’ that celebrated women over the age of 50. The video featured multiple women, ages 50-81 all wearing Knix Lingerie. The campaign’s focus was on how often society chooses to ignore women over a certain age. Knix aims to empower all women, young and old. This has been a significant inclusive fashion moment this year. This type of honest representation is rare to see and it’s a step in the right direction to make women feel more confident in who they are. The fashion industry needs to continue casting older models and creating items that represent them. This key part of our society should not be ignored.
Representation at New York Fashion Week
The New York Fashion Week earlier this year had some key inclusive moments. The show is held in February and September each year and it displays various fashion collections to an audience. Earlier this year, the show featured Jillian Mercado who made her New York Fashion Week runway debut in the Blonds Fall 2020 show. Mercado is an actress and model who is a wheelchair user due to her muscular dystrophy. She went down the runway wearing a gold dress and a matching gold headpiece.
She was able to make a key statement, representing disabled people all over the world. Mercado described how she finally felt heard after the show. She dedicated her achievement to others with disabilities. I hope that this event will inspire the industry to continue heading in this direction. The representation must be present at the shows and maybe one day this will become the new norm. People of all different backgrounds need to be present in the fashion world. We all deserve to feel significant and seen.
Genderless fashion is on the rise
The year so far has contributed to the rise of genderless fashion. The French brand Equipment is the creator of a project that is pushing boundaries. They joined forces with The Phulid Project, a genderless clothing retailer, to make their vision come alive. Equipment decided to take their inclusiveness further by launching a gender-fluid collection for spring 2020. The campaign included gender expressive, non-binary, and transgender talent. There was an emphasis on individuality, wanting to portray how the brand is for all, regardless of gender, identity or expression. The Phulid Project’s role was ensuring that Equipment was taking the right steps when creating this line. This is due to their insight into the non-binary and trans demographic.
The focal point of the campaign was not on a certain gender or person but instead on a wide range of people, all from different parts of the LGBTQ+ community. This made the campaign extremely effective. It’s important for brands to normalise clothing without binary constraints. They should recognise the people who choose to not live within gender boundaries. Everyone should feel catered for and by representing more people this creates a more inclusive industry.
Room for improvement
Despite all the positive events that have happened in the first half of the year, I believe that there are still many ways in which the industry can become more inclusive. Progress has been made but there is still much room for improvement. This is only the beginning. I want to see a world where being inclusive is ordinary for a brand. A world where fashion always represents everyone, including the often-ignored groups in our society and their struggles.