One of the most important editions of Vogue UK is perhaps the one in March 1996. The cover featured Donyale Luna wearing Twiggy-esque, thick eye makeup with her hand beautifully resting across her face. Donyale Luna, a 20-year-old model from Detroit, is the first black woman to take the cover of Vogue and one of the first international supermodels with African descent.
While it takes 70 years for the UK edition of Vogue and 78 years for American Vogue to have a black woman as a cover in their magazines, it marked a significant landmark in the fashion world. Luna’s career success in the modelling industry paved the way for future models like Tyra Banks, Naomi Campbell, Iman, Oluchi Onweagba, or Jourdan Dunn.
Today, Donyale Luna’s legacy is considered as the fashion industry’s first step towards industry inclusivity. Most brands learned that clothes should be designed with consumers in mind, and it should be visually inclusive of the body types from which most of the designers draw inspiration from.
Since Donyale Luna’s magazine cover, have become a significant influence in the fashion world and brands have re-assessed their barriers beyond any race. Incorporating models of all sizes, sexual orientation, shapes, genders, and ages, both off and on the runway.
Because of its popularity, among major brands – casting in the streets serves as a good example – fashion is no longer exclusive to tall, thin, and white women. Instead, go out on the road, looking for potential models that manifest the brand’s aesthetics.
Although some fashion brands can feel foreign and indigestible, the brands can connect more with their target market through the bodies and faces that wear their products. Beyond this kind of casting method, there are now management agencies like No Agency, Oldsushka, that mainly represents models that break the model stereotype. You can also check the Modeling Grand Rapids link if you want to find agencies that suit your needs quickly.
Agencies like those who have specific guidelines when it comes to their models. The less traditional and intriguing a potential model, the better. This progressive vision makes the fashion world a lot more relatable, accessible, meaningful, and culturally-driven than ever before.
It gives the models who didn’t have the chance before, powerful influence and a powerful voice that reaches even beyond the fashion world. A perfect example of this is Maia Ruth Lee, an artist who walked the Eckhaus Latta’s Spring 2018 runway when she was pregnant.
Another more radical example is Winnie Harlow, a black model with vitiligo, a skin condition where pigment-producing cells die or stop functioning, turning your skin white. The most famous person with this kind of condition is Michael Jackson.
Winnie Harlow’s rapid success in the modelling world, both as a public figure and a famous model, speaks to her unquestionable beauty and the society’s hunger for a more diverse and inclusive industry. Her fan base is vast and loyal (2.6 million Instagram followers), and perhaps her most attractive quality is not her beauty, but her confidence, a trait that will never go out of style (not like a person’s physical beauty). Her message represents one within more substantial global discussions.
Matching the idea that the fashion industry should avoid stereotyping and be inclusive of the people for whom the industry exists, a lot of brands are starting to view the needs of the consumers for a fresh idea. The increase of quality and luxury comfort-focused apparels like the knitwear from Lauren Manoogian or the muumuu jumpsuits from Black Crane creates a new place for women to join in the fashion conversation without losing their sense of wearability.
Athleisure or a fashion trend in which clothing is designed for athletic activities and workouts normalizes the comfort of athletic wears into clothing that can be used as daywear. It takes into account the women, the body types, as well as the lifestyles of the society. While the avant-garde, couture, and other less wearable items are here to stay. There is a new air of a recognized need for the woman to feel more comfortable in the clothing that they wear. Do you want to know everything about Athleisure, you can visit https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Athleisure.
For the past years, the understanding of the need for inclusivity and body-positivity in the fashion industry has weighed more for young designers and brands. It was shown at New York Fashion Week than in any European fashion events.
At least five plus-sized models walked the runway in New York for the Spring 2017 collection of Christian Siriano, as well as the Spring 2018 collections of Chomat that show a recently made anti-chafing thigh bands, highly functional, extremely body-positive, and fashionable accessories. For most models with different skin color.
The 2018 Fashion Spot fall’s diversity report showed that the model’s percentage of color walking on the runway reached an all-time high with 36.9%, and most runway shows include at least two to three models with color. While this is very impressive, the idea of having just that many models of color among 50 or more feels like lackluster and passive.
Is the brand cast a diverse range of women to establish a more comprehensive industry, or are they trying to keep up with the changing times? If the latter is their real reason, brands will not only miss a tremendous opportunity to improve the fashion industry they are in but also bypass an honest and broader audience.
On the side note, Siriano has repeatedly emphasized the importance of including models of all ethnicities and sizes on the runway for often forgotten, and obvious reasons that there is are different kinds of consumers. One major driving factor that affects the increasing inclusivity of all models with different characteristics in the fashion industry, besides some enlightened fashion designers like Siriano is the emergence of social media or social networking sites.
Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, give people space to voice out their opinions, encourage new ones, and foster the formation of similar online communities. The success of sites dedicated to celebrating plus-sized models, models of different color, as well as gender-variant people in fashion promotes the importance of these communities. Because of that, it is no longer suitable to overlook certain groups of people when they are publicly visible and already part of the conversation.