They might be similar but they are hardly equal.
30 September 2022

Diversity has been a major topic in fashion over the last few years and every brand is including more models of colour, different sizes and body types – regardless of whether they fit the outdated standards of beauty. But what about inclusivity? 

We often mix diversity and inclusivity up for one another. Yes, gone are the days of “cookie-cutter” models with slender bodies and symmetrical faces, which is great for people of colour in the fashion sphere.

Photo Credit: @tommyhilfiger

However, what about opportunities for these under-represented communities? How many of these models open or close the shows? How much budget was allocated to them? Was there enough media coverage?

The truth is: It’s easier for well-established labels to bogart the attention of their efforts toward inclusivity. Tommy Hilfiger’s recent viral New York Fashion Week runway highlighted a handful of plus-sized models such as Ashley Graham and Paloma Elsesser. 

Photo Credit: @tommyhilfiger

The American designer also featured a Native American model and activist Quannah Chasinghorse in a bid to represent all Americans.

But Hilfiger isn’t the only one, Project Runway alumnus Christian Siriano also did the same. On top of that, his SS23 designs leaned towards androgyny with impeccably-tailored pantsuits with deep V-necks that left a little bit of skin to tantalise the audience.

Photo Credit: @csiriano

Peter Do’s first menswear line displayed many elements of gender-bending fashion from large slits down the pants to tightly-cinched blazers, oh and let’s not forget those platform heels trucking down the runway.

But here’s where the disparity comes in. This year’s line-up had the most black designers to date – about 25 percent – yet the media coverage has not reflected that. 

Photo Credit: @fenoel

Some notable designers include Brooklyn-based designer Felicia Noel who had an impressive collection that merged softness and dynamism seamlessly. Her closing couture gown had a 16-foot train that is symbolic of the unequal pay gap that women face.

Video Credit: @khiryofficial

Afrofuturist label Khiry, helmed by Chicago designer Jameel Mohammed, was a prime example of how fashion could be used to deliver important messages subtly and effectively. The collection that consisted of upcycled Everlast clothing had prints that embodies what Black Lives Matter is all about  – equality and liberation.

Video Credit: @shedeestyle

Aliétte by stylist-turned-designer Jason Rembert showcased a jaw-dropping 30-piece collection that flowed from luscious greens to brilliant yellows with tons of embroidery, feathers, corsets and tiered layering. A truly magical showcase that was also a tribute to his late mother.

Photo Credit: @genentech

The Double Take Fashion Show by biotechnology company Genentech and in partnership with the Spinal Muscular Atrophy community came together to remind everyone that good fashion should be accessible to anyone. A majority of the models that werked the ensembles were from the community as well.

Of course, inclusive sizing is something that all designers have to continue working on. There is no doubt that some American designers have departed from size 0 but they are nowhere close to the average women’s size of 14 to 18. 

Photo Credit: @lcchan

As the saying goes: “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” It would be unfair to expect these labels to upend the industry on its head without sacrificing the financial costs that keep a roof over their couture and their team that turns their sketches into reality. 

All we can continue doing is keeping a watchful eye out on these labels and repping accessible and inclusive fashion for everyone alike. 

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