For years, to work in the fashion industry was to act and look a certain way. The uniform was as follows: skinny legs, pale skin, and the measurements to dress in high-end ready-to-wear. The industry Devil-Wears-Prada’d itself, hard, using the beauty standard to discriminate against those that didn’t have “the look.” These were women of color, of size, and of age.
That was before 2010. Around that time, society began to face a new wave of feminism and body positivity that has made a remarkable impact on fashion. Women around the world followed suit, and, in turn, fashion is at its most progressive era since the 1980’s.
An article written by The Cut this weekend challenged this notion. After analyzing looks from New York Fashion Week and interviewing 11 industry leaders, writer Lindsay Peoples concluded that fashion’s catering to skinny, white girls was setting the industry far back.
The Cut exposed that out of its own 300 street-style photographs, only 29 were non-white men and women, with seven repeating faces in the deck…yikes.
It’s easiest to ignore a problem when there’s a much greater one at hand — and the existentialism of NYFW is fueling this fire. While diversity certainly is an issue in fashion, many have questioned the practicality behind New York Fashion Week, explicitly if all the fanfare is making a difference in the NYC creative landscape. It’s hard to focus on diversity while the very platform of fashion could be dead in the next season or two. Meanwhile, this is why the claim that fashion and its accommodations to Elle Wood’s look-alikes (no offense, Reese Witherspoon) was so telling.
While street style might not seem like that big of a deal, its lack of diversity is a large part of why so many fashion figures are feeling the mundaneness of the shows. A continuous repetition of faces, colors and sizes is stalling the progression of fashion creatives. Soon, the colorful landscape that all fashion figures know and love will be gone within the blink of an eye and turn of the heel. Below details the cycle that contributes to the mass existentialism in the industry today, and failure to acknowledge this recapitulation will inevitably result in further fashion fatigue.
- A grand mass of well-dressed, well-paid fashion observers flock to Manhattan to observe fashion week for fall/winter of 2018.
- These observers, mostly women, range in color, age, and size. That is because despite the petite range of women that fashion caters to, it peaks the interest of many.
- Women walk in and out of shows, some of them have thousands or millions of Instagram followers. Others are strongholds of the industry. The week is taxing: having to wake up early, go to bed late, conduct interviews, teeter on heels, and continuously have an “Instagrammable” face. But it works.
- Photographers watch and take photos.
- The next morning, the pictures go up on all of the fashion sources. Despite all of the women that tried so hard the day before, only a handful are shown. They are skinny and white and wear the same silhouettes, colors, and brands. The ideas of the diverse, different, and demiurgic are left behind.
- Regular spectators take notice and inspiration from photographs, unaware of the redundancy. They buy what they see. Brands produce more of what the consumers buy. Influencers purchase the clothes they influenced.
- The women of color, of size, and of different style watch all of their peers and coworkers set an industry standard by merely following protocol, thus changing nothing and setting a broader, deeper standard of prejudice in the industry and pop culture.