Fashion + Diversity

‘Diversity is not a trend.’

The conversation surrounding diversity in the fashion industry is finally been discussed and echoed.

Fashion brands, magazines, and designers are now aware of the responsibilities they have to represent a breadth of culture and identities.

In an age where a denial to represent or acknowledge certain groups of people can result in viral outrage, brands have adapted in order to remain relevant. Focusing on fashion brands, high street shops such as River Island, Calvin Klein, and Tommy Hilfiger are a few brands that have made moves to cater to people beyond the mainstream. Now high-end fashion brands are finally catching on with Gucci’s newest face representing a group that has long been underrepresented in the industry.

The fashion industry might be quick when it comes to trends, but it has been slow to represent people of different sizes, ethnicities, and abilities.

In the last 2 years, we have seen the high street brands divert in a more inclusive direction from changes in their advertising campaigns and clothing lines. River Island has adapted to a pro-diversity campaign, ‘labels are for clothes’ which resulted in their campaign including models of different genders, sexualities, ethnicities, religions, sizes, and disabilities in both their adult and children adverts.

Other high street brands such as Tommy Hilfiger have taken a step further and launched adaptive clothing ranges designed for adults and children with physical and mental disabilities. The brand hasn’t just made clothes collection out of thin air, they have involved the disabled community throughout the whole process allowing them to be involved from the design stage to the marketing. Leading to the clothes range including magnetic closures, adjustable waists, one hand zips, and extended openings whilst all maintain the style of the brand. Tommy Hilfiger has opened the eyes of people in the fashion industry, as many brands on the fashion spectrum are beginning to realise there is a wide audience waiting to be catered for.

More recently, Calvin Klein cast 9 LGBTQ models to their 2020 pride campaign #PROUDINMYCALVINS. The models represented positive messaging about identity, allyship, and self-appreciation. The campaign included black transgender model, actress, and activist Jari Jones. Jones’s stunning billboard is now up in downtown Manhattan for everyone to see and celebrate.

Moving on to the high-end brands, Gucci Beauty recently moved towards showing diversity in their campaign. Gucci cast Ellie Goldstein as their latest model in their campaign, the model is seen smiling and is wearing the brands’ mascara L’Obscur. She is known as the latest revolutionary model as Ellie has down syndrome representing the diverse group of consumers that shop the brand’s products which reflects that the brand is adapting to people beyond the mainstream.

Over the last few years, it is clear that more and more brands are adopting diversity, hopefully, major brands will follow their lead. At the same time these brands can nurture a market that inspires self- expression and also inclusivity regardless of age, race, capability, or gender.

Often in fashion, diversity is superficial but the fashion industry must understand that diversity is not a trend, and there is more work to be done to acknowledge and address the barriers. Although some fashion brands are adapting to become more diverse, there is still a need for better representation and change in the fashion industry. Fashion brands should create products that can be used by both disabled and able-bodied people, rather than separate ranges, whilst also including a variety of people to model in their campaign as brands need to get away from the ‘norm’ segregation.

As there is no clear way to solving the fashion industry’s lack of diversity acknowledgment, the world needs to be more inclusive, and shaming thin, white models for not being the norm isn’t going to work. For now, we must celebrate any little acknowledgment made by fashion brands.

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