Diversity is used everyday. Do we really know the meaning of it and how to practice it? Businesses use it to make a role vacancy appealing but delving deeper than this opens up the discussion. For me personally, diversity is about where we came from and where we want to go, our stories are all unique. As Malcom Forbes said “diversity, the art of thinking independently together.”
A Social Background
A person’s social background is a huge part of what diversity means. Your social background does not determine how your life ends up and fashion seems to define the odds of your class status. The clothes you wear today probably don’t reflect the type of background you came from. This is one reason why fashion has such a big impact. People express themselves through fashion as a way of perceiving themselves without knowing anything about them. There’s a phrase often used in business teachings, ‘rags to riches’. An entrepreneur comes from a low-class background, ‘rags’, and builds themselves to the ‘riches’. The fashion industry is a great example of this. It’s ironic that the term uses ‘rags’ as this is another way of describing clothes.
A Female Fashion Designer
The first black female fashion designer Zelda Valdes is a very important woman when it comes to female fashion designers. She worked her way up in the industry to be the the woman who fabricated gowns for the rich and famous. Zelda worked with the likes of Hugh Hefner and has been questioned to be one of the ladies who designed the famous bunny outfits. With the credibility she gained she set up a fashion designing class and an orchestra group for youths. She was a woman who wanted to give back to the community. Her experience in the fashion industry allowed her to create something positive. Those who would’ve probably been rejected due to their social background, were given the opportunity to get into the fashion industry. Her story has arguably changed the fashion scene. Demonstrating women can be just as good as men and get the recognition for it. A story like this should be one to inspire anyone with the mindset to fight against the lack of diversity.
Social Media’s Influence
Without reading her story we wouldn’t know how she got to where she did. We can only have an opinion of the fashion industry by what the media choose for us to see. The first plus size model or the first black woman on the catwalk are great examples. These were all events blown up in the media. It is only one-time things like this that get given the headlines. The catwalk we watch is not the only part of fashion. A lot goes off behind the scenes that we don’t often see. Social media’s power has forced the fashion industry to be more inclusive.
Changing of Diversity
Today’s society is changing the rules of fashion. We no longer need to be 6ft with a slim figure and long legs. Ashley Graham arguably is the leader of the plus size models. She was the first plus size model to appear in Sports Illustrated in 2016. This was only 4 years ago which seems a little late to be including different types models. Diversity can include body types and Graham tries to demonstrate this. She is using her platform within the media to show that there is no definition of the perfect way of modelling fashion anymore.
Consequently, the media has caused fashion brands to change their ways. Brands like Gucci have had to pull products off the shelf for being either racially offensive or offending plus size people. Brands like Gucci have been named clueless by media outlets showing they don’t realise the severity of diversity. Behaviour like this shows that the fashion industry is lacking in diversity. Without social media and the press we would’ve never known about the scandals that have happened. Influencers are a big part of letting us know that brands aren’t diverse. Influencers do as the name says, they influence us, our thoughts and behaviours. They have brought a stand in recognising that behind the scenes of fashion aren’t as diverse as what we think.
The encouraging of diversity is a positive action. Being a diverse brand can influence more people to dress how they like and not how they should dress. People are out there going beyond the typical meaning of diversity. Maybe fashion brands need to re-consider the impact diversity has and how people react towards it. A more diverse campaign is more likely to entice people than a regular campaign.
Changes in the times mean changes in diversity. Something else may be classed as diverse in the next 10 years that we don’t know about today. That’s the beauty of it. It is constantly evolving like fashion. That’s why it’s such a great thing to have within brands as it shows they are keeping up with the changing times.