For years we have witnessed models, activists and consumers of fashion lament the fashion industry’s exclusionary norms.
From design sizes to representation on the catwalk and opportunities in the sartorial business have all been points of contention for the masses.
This Council of Fashion Designers of America’s (CFDA) report titled Insider/Outsiders recounts something we’ve heard from activists, models and a number of industry professionals – that the fashion industry needs to be more inclusive.
Many models have taken it upon themselves to raise awareness about the discrimination they face in the business.
The likes of Leyna Bloom and Ebony Davis come to mind as just some of the models who have shared the hardships they have experienced when it comes to race and gender, and continue to challenge the fashion industry to practice more diversity and inclusivity.
Organised groups have also consistently resisted stagnant beauty norms used in fashion. One brand's collection that's been targeted continues to be the beleaguered Victoria’s Secret Show.
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Amazing Day shared with my lovely friends #FallenAngels Campaigning for Diversity in the Fashion Industry. We marched into @victoriassecret and stripped down to our @nunude_official underwear shouting that we want diversity on our runways. ???????????? then found ourselves in the middle of Oxford street calling for Change within the fashion industry ?????? #bodypositive #bodypositivity #campaigns #loveyourself #loveyou #embraceyourbody @topshop @marksandspencer @debenhams @britishvogue
Erica Lovett, Condé Nast inclusion and community manager, is quoted in the report saying: “It’s exciting to see more racial and ethnic representation highlighted through these mediums, but visibility alone is not the solution to advancing diversity and inclusion in fashion.”
The report defines inclusivity as, “a climate in which diverse individuals come together to form a collective whole, enabling and empowering individuals to make contributions consistent with their beliefs and backgrounds.”
Not to be equated with diversity, which is “simply a measure of difference”.
The report emphasises the need for the fashion industry to go beyond visibility. Erica adds that “the industry must recognise and prioritise efforts to support greater diversity on the business side: the financiers, the chief executives, the heads of fashion houses, the senior level magazine editors and business leaders”.
The Business of Fashion reports that the CFDA plans to launch initiatives to promote diversity and inclusion, and will have model and activist Bethann Hardison as an advisor.
Having the CFDA echo these concerns on an institutional level is a significant step, however, the buck stops with fashion brands.
The report recommends that organisations and companies should have inclusion and diversity aligned and integrated into its business structures, mission statements and core values.
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