Whilst Oscar nominees demonstrate a need for highlighting improved examination of film diversity, we take a review on recent causes to celebrate diversity in fashion.

Diversity, representation, empowerment and liberation were the buzzwords of the 2015. Nearly everyone online raised their banners to the cause, whether that be the sensationalist #freethenipple or #droptheplus viral campaigns, or caught up in the hype of digitised fourth wave feminism.

Fashion celebrates a decent amounts of firsts to indicate a proper momentum here. 2015 was the year that sustainability of the fashion industry was been called into question. The health and well being of models, led to a parliamentary inquiry. A resulting suggestion was to legally raise the minimum age of models from 16 to 18 years old. This law, designed to protect young models from intense working conditions, would in turn alleviate some of the strain on (marginally) older models bodies from excruciating standards set in place, as they progress from younger to older models.

Elsewhere France took a bolder step, by pioneering legislation to insure models health, banning the use of excessively thin models, in addition to this professional models must provide certificated health checks. Even if the use of BMI as a barometer of health is questioned by many in the industry. All of this was inspired by the year in which models, like Rosie Nelson, empowered themselves through social media, speaking out against the industry’s increasingly unrealistic ideals.‘ Both plus’ size and ‘standard’ models joined forces to call out the issues.

Size Matters Week, from our friends at i-D, amplified fashion’s body image conversation ten fold with its in-depth look into the shape of our industry. It was a momentous milestone this time last year, when plus size model Tessa Munster, standing at 5’5 and weighing in at 260 pounds, was signed to Milk Model Management. Tessa was the first for her shape and size to be represented at a major modelling agency. Other plus size model victories includes Louboutin’s Clementine Desseaux’s star role, as a UK size 12/14 model in their latest campaign.

‘Yours’ Valentines Day Editorial

Progressive brands, like &OtherStories have caught onto the flag tails of diversity representation. Their inclusive non-binary campaigns, celebrating the trans community and embracing alternative beauty stood out. The Gaze campaign featured the trail blazing, trans superstar, Hari Nef who shot to fame as a spokeswoman, with countless editorials, campaigns and an acting spot on Transparent. Andreja Pejic is another trans model who made history in 2015 as being the first ever trans face of a beauty campaign starring in Make Up For Ever’s ‘Be Bold. Be Unexpected. Be You’.


& Other Stories Transgender Campaign

Bigger brands such as L’Oreal Paris added to the mix by casting South Korean, Soo Joo Park as their spokesperson and Global Ambassador. Speaking to Style.com, Park added that “It’s such an honour, but I also think the world is getting smaller and the globalisation of commerce is influencing industries like beauty and fashion. So to be the first to represent a global brand is a huge honour but I don’t want to be just that one thing; I want to be the global ambassador.” This appointment makes perfect sense to us at All Walks.

Another round of firsts saw disability activist and model Jillian Mercado joining IMG. Her sheer dedication and drive in the fashion industry culminated in 2014, when she starred in the groundbreaking campaign for Diesel. Mercado became an instant hit, role model and leader for diversity in fashion.

Jillian Mercado in Diesel Spring 2014

Fashion powerhouse and all round cool guy Olivier Rousteing has pushed diversity into the mainstream and high fashion, championing other body types in the form of Kardashians and the like. In an interview with CNN, Rousteing stated that,“The aesthetic of my clothes is really important, but the aesthetic of the world, of the vision that I have — of this diversity that I want to push — it’s way stronger than my collection. I want to dress different girls, different women; in the casting — the models, in my front row.”

“The aesthetic of my clothes is really important, but the aesthetic of the world, of the vision that I have — of this diversity that I want to push — it’s way stronger than my collection.”

Olivier Rousteing

 

When it came to diversity on the catwalk, Lineisy Montero was proclaimed the ‘queen’ of runway, walking more shows than any other model throughout fashion month with a grand total of 68 shows – a truly impressive title to hold. The biggest names in fashion – Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Balmain, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Miu Miu, Dries, Loewe, Chloé, Céline, to name a few – were chomping at the bit for piece of Montero. Serving as the cream of the crop, the likes of models Montero and Binx Walton waved the flag for diversity internationally.

Although the movement felt very real, statistics show a different story, the Business of Fashion reported that 79% of models throughout NYFW SS16 presentations were white. However, we are delighted to see the likes of Claire Barrow and Nasir Mazhar, a new wave of designer with a brand identity that doesn’t define its consumer by their SS16 presentations.These genuinely cool brands are embracing diversity in a very native and believable way, rather than token ‘otherness’.

Prada Autumn/Winter 2015 Campaign

Despite establishing an open conversation and encouraging consumer interaction, what actually changed in 2015?

Admittedly, we’ve seen that there is some serious backlash awaiting brands that perpetuate a stagnant outlook on beauty and fashion. However there seems to be no real consequence if you simply tread the line and manage to not offend anyone without embracing diversity at all. One is forced to ask. Is it all just hot air? Or a passing trend, to be scoffed at next year, when female empowerment will surely get squashed again because we’re simply feeling too good about ourselves.

There is still much to be done in the year ahead. Bring on 2016. A plethora of game changers are waiting in the wings to get a piece of the diversity action. A new breed of creatives within the fashion industry, ranging from models, designers, photographers and stylists are making changes. With renewed vigour All Walks will continue to lead you down the runway and tackle the issues at the heart of the diversity debate, probing the collective psyche and unpicking the big dogs.

Whether it is reactionary or supportive, 2015 has lit the proverbial fire in our variously sized bellies. Now’s the time to breathe fire into this conversation.

Words: Elli Weir