The age of diversity: Fashion Week like it's never been seen

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Diversity in the fashion world reaches a new crowning moment with the Spring-Summer 2018 shows 

The age of diversity: Fashion Week like it's never been seen

After decades of tone-deaf advertising campaigns, cultural-appropriation scandals, and lack of diversity, the fashion world is finally responding to cultural trends and embracing diversity.

2017 could have been named the year of diversity as casting companies and fashion houses embraced all sizes, shapes and colors, moving away from uniformity and the 90-60-90 beauty canons or the overwhelmingly white teenage girls endorsed until recently by the retail industry.

The move came gradually and it began with top fashion houses employing more minority ethnic models and it reached the climax with Milan Fashion Week and the Gianni Versace Tribute Collection. Donatella Versace brought glamour back to the catwalks by employing the original supermodels: Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Helena Christensen, and Carla Bruni. Her decision to use more experienced models instead of teenage girls was celebrated and it marked a new beginning for an industry slow to change. 

Donatella wasn’t the only one who used older models in her shows and notable appearances were Hollywood goddess Jane Fonda and Dame Helen Mirren who walked in L'Oreal's first runway show. The Balenciaga and Dries Van Noten presentations were also in line with the changes of our times and they highlighted the need for diversity by featuring older women.

Hijab- wearing model Halima Aden who made history for being the first fully covered Muslim woman participating in the Miss Minnesota USA pageant and who later walked in Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 5 show at NYFW and in Max Mara and Alberta Ferretti’s shows in MFW, proved that the fashion world is taking real steps towards cultural inclusivism and ethnic diversity.

Ashley Graham, the most famous spokesperson for the “Body positivity” movement and a name already associated with size diversity, made once more history being the first plus- size model to walk for Michael Kors. Then again, Ashley Graham wasn’t the only plus- size model seen on the catwalks and according to The Fashion Spot, a total of 93 plus- size models walked in the Spring 2018 shows. Most of these women were present in the NYFW and only two of them walked during London Fashion Week in the Alexander McQueen presentation.

There is also and increase in transgender and non-binary models, having 45 transgender models and four non-binary models present in the Spring 2018 fashion shows.

With regard to ethnicity the numbers are still disappointing, although they finally moved a bit further. Almost 70% of the models present on the catwalks were caucasian, showing that the glitzy high-end fashion world is still trailing behind other industries in terms of diversity.

The promotion of a more diverse catwalk is in line with our times, when beauty comes in a whole array of shapes, colors and sizes. Thanks to the current political climate, social media, and millennial influencers, brands can no longer overlook the changes in the social environment. If fashion houses are serious about their future, they need to widen their horizons and understand that embracing modernity and moving away from vanity and consumerism while building a truly diverse and open industry is a sign of the times.


Latin American Post | Adina Achim

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