With London Fashion Week looming and cultural tensions filling the media in recent months, diversity and acceptance is at the forefront of most of our minds. Did you know that it was as recent as the ’80s that putting a black model on the cover of a magazine was taboo? Neither did I. It seems like before my time, but really, most of us lived through it without even noticing. Yes…now models like Winnie Harlow and Jourdan Dunn are donning the covers of those same magazines, but is this enough? Let’s be real; we could do better.
With AW17 showcasing the most diverse Fashion Week catwalk yet, London Fashion Week proudly took the lead and saw a 4.9% increase on racial diversity on the runway from the previous year, where only 25% of the models were women of colour. Not only did London step up its racial and cultural diversity game, it also saw seven women over the age of 50 strut down the runway. Lest we forget, supermodel greats like Elle Macpherson and Cindy Crawford are over the age of 50, do they show any sign of losing their supermodel status just because of their age? No. Why should they?
The most inclusive show of AW16 was that of H&M who included non-white, plus-sized, aged and transgender models on their runway. When asked about the theme behind their collection, H&M Creative Advisor, Ann-Sofie Johansson, said: “the collection is about the strength and beauty of women, and how we express that through our style.” Definitely an example that should be followed.
Now, with the most glitz and glam event in the fashion calendar just around the corner, it’s time to scream about diversity, not whisper. In my eyes, the sooner we see a catwalk that is full of a variety of women, the better. Although small steps are undeniably a positive thing, it’s time to strive for bigger leaps to be made to include women of every race, age, shape and size. With 2016 being a gargantuan mess of a year, and now with the likes of Trump defending bigots and seeing (what feels like) constant terror attacks, it’s time for fashion to step up and give equality a louder voice.
The question is: unless you are a part of the inner circle of the fashion world, how do you have the power to make an impact? It’s easy for us to sit idle and talk about diversity, but putting it into practice is a whole other story. As fans of fashion, we can speak about it all we want; we can use Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and tag our favourite brands, but when it comes down to it, it’s the media that has the power (and the platform) to start raising awareness that people will actually listen to. If a problem doesn’t get the attention it deserves, how do we expect it to be fixed? With a week until SS18 showcases at London Fashion Week, let’s hope that this will be the season that the media finally takes notice.
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