10 WAYS THE WORLD OF FASHION CAN BE MORE INCLUSIVE

By: Raevin Larue , August 30 2022



Calling all fashion lovers! The Fall and Winter season of fashion is arriving and the trends are subversive yet daring while packing a lot of colour. From the ever evolving classic Mary Jane Shoe elevated with multiple straps to the return of 60’s Winter Fashion, this season is going to look like an episode of Mad Men blended with leather jackets, baggy denims and multicoloured sweaters that will turn heads.

Christian Louboutin Miss Jane 55 iridescent patent-leather pumps. $895.00

Sadly, with all new trends, we can expect many body types, genders and races to be left out of campaign advertising. As this generation’s supermodels continue to serve on the runway and across the pages of our favourite publications, these wildly beautiful talents or rather able bodied, carbon copies of each other, represent an expired beauty standard we are all tired of. The hyper thin, Eurocentric supermodel, although deserving of representation, continues to monopolize media platforms despite not being a realistic representation of today’s inclusive culture. Fashion business owners can do more to be inclusive. In fact, here is a list of 10 ways the fashion industry can be more inclusive for this season’s hottest trends and the many to follow.

1. Visual content platforms like Pinterest need to improve their search algorithms.

Who else has been obsessed with Pinterest since 2011? The never ending availability of images with the concept of ‘future dream home’, eclectic shoe and wardrobe collections or highly coveted travel experiences has been responsible for inspiring many Pinterest board creators. However, it is rare to see images with people who have brown skin unless you add keywords such as ‘black girl’ or ‘brown woman’ into searches. The standard search result for anything related to beauty and fashion continues to be white, able bodied women. 

Despite efforts to diversify search results using a skin-tone selection, the platform still fails in representing diverse body types and gender. But it’s not just Pinterest, most visual content platforms design their applications to enforce a primarily Eurocentric beauty standard. Not much has changed in this regard since these platforms launched. There are millions of fashion lovers, designers and models who exist outside this damaging bubble, who dominate Instagram and TikTok. Pinterest and other visual content platforms need to rethink their business model, algorithm and how they can ensure a simple search of “Pleated Skirt” results in inclusive images because they absolutely exist.

2. Fashion television needs a renaissance.

Gone are the days of salacious teen soap dramas where the girlies were taking each other down in their immaculate outfits (we miss you Gossip Girl). And yes, the reboot frenzy is doing its best to bring that nostalgia back, but I think we can all agree it’s not working. We need original shows that are built around our new culture of fashion, that echo the sentiments of our immersive generation and that represent our demands for all of us to be seen. 

This needs to go beyond scripted dramas. Currently, there are more Pop Culture hosts rocking their curves that exceed the 2007 size six shame (yes a size six was considered plus size back then.) Style “Nailed It” Host Nicole Byers in a Indie Sleaze wardrobe. Take a risk with our fave Kelly Clarkson and style her in fringe with Khaite Dallas suede knee boots.

The bottom line is we should be able to see past a person’s image in favour of the creative style risks they are taking. Seeing ourselves in every imaginable way in popular television will help eradicate this obsession of what someone’s gender, size and race are.

3. Individuals with disabilities should be mandatory in campaign advertising.

This is a call out to all the major fashion magazines who have yet to honor the promise of body inclusivity in their ads. It is starting to feel like virtue signaling. Every year, two or three pieces are published in major publications about how representation must include those with disabilities. We read, we shake our heads and we smile at the feeling of progress. But are we really making strides? Do we see enough people with disabilities scattered throughout ads for our favorite labels? Not yet.

As consumers, we have to push harder and demand louder for actual change because we are the buying power, there is no excuse that in 2022 models of all bodily abilities are not featured everywhere all the time. Truthfully, it’s insulting that they struggle to be seen after they are used to improve the image of a brand wanting to stay relevant with newer generations. 

Sigh* Rome was not built in a day, as they say, so until that happens, check out these incredible fashion influencers who shimmer in style. @BernadetteHagans, @JillianMercado,

4. It’s time to abandon the offensive term “Plus Size.”

Thanks to the many writers and thought leaders who have deconstructed our culture’s obsession with fat phobia, women are reclaiming their bodies and it’s glorious to watch. This summer curvy girls reclaimed Y2K fashion with crop tops, low rise jeans, colourful mini skirts and tight dresses that love every corner of their shape. And yet it feels current labels are struggling to adapt to new attitudes, instead of making their clothes size inclusive, “Plus Size” alternatives continue to be launched. Why this is happening remains a mystery, but considering the average size women shop for has been between 16-18 since the 80’s, it makes absolutely no sense why size segregation is happening with all of our resources that exist now.

It is not all bad, there are some great labels that are doing it right. Able, a fashion forward brand committed to size inclusivity offer up to 3X and by Fall 2023, will offer up to 5X. They also offer size swapping so that if a customer outgrows or under grows their garment, they have the option to swap it for the right size. Not only is this innovative but it also promotes sustainability. Another brand offering sizes up to 6X is Jessakae; their style is dainty and covered in feminine cuts and prints.

The term is rooted in disempowerment, is extremely hurtful and to be honest outdated. If labels are not interested in participating in changing the perception around various body types, then perhaps it’s time for them to exit the game, because we don’t want to play with them anymore.

5. And on that note, we should stop photoshopping everything.

In the words of my girl Cardi B: “What Was The Reason?” Because let’s talk about it. For years publications have been writing about the dangers of the “fake reality” social media promotes, once again applying blame to the consumer for poisoning our “impressionable” minds with images of unattainable perfections.

These same publications who have whole departments for retouching and photoshopping to make their products appear magical, taking your lumpy body or acne prone skin from busted to runway model with no pores. Perfection is unnatural and the only reason these images keep popping up is to keep our society feeling insecure and addicted to changing themselves to fit into some mans idea of the perfect woman or individual.

There is truly no reason to photoshop any image of a product or person. Consumers deserve to see themselves, their true selves in the products they look for. It’s that simple folks.

6. Models of all ages and ethnicities should be at the core of fashion campaigns.

Our queen Rihanna could carry the fashion industry on her pinky but lets give our big sis a break shall we?

But seriously, Rihanna can do it and has been wildly successful. She raised our expectations, she walked the talk, and we buy from her because she listens. Her Savage X Fenty Shows are a masterclass in how simple it is the respect your consumers. And all brands and labels should be following her example.

That’s all.

7. Remember, fashion influencers are the instruments of change.

Let’s be clear the changes surrounding body image, diversity and inclusivity in the fashion industry would have never happened if not for the incredible regular people like you and I taking a stand on social media demanding better representation.

But as previously mentioned, the fashion revolution for many labels has been a delicate tap dance to the tune of virtue signalling. Major companies co-opting grassroots efforts is nothing new; I am not saying having progressive messages promoted on the world stage isn’t beneficial, what I am saying is that those at the top are not the trend setters, the consumers are. The fashion lovers are, the marginalized are, those continuously left out the conversation are. At the end of the day we are still shopping from bigger companies run by men of a certain age clinging the harmful desires of the past. And they do an excellent job at making us forget who really holds the cards. Your voice matters and you are entitled to be seen, and if you struggle to believe me, look at how Victoria Secret turned out.

8. We Should Stop Celebrating the Bare Minimum.

I remember reading an article in 2018 about Tyler Mitchell being the first black photographer to shoot the cover of Vogue. The comment section was on fire, full of praise and celebration of progress. I, although happy for this artist, felt embarrassed for the magazine.

There is nothing impressive about a magazine with that much social power finally giving opportunities to people who have been around longer than the publication itself. And that goes for all marginalized groups who are featured in clickbait articles that will be used to sell more copies of a medium that doesn’t actually care about including them in the visual narratives.

I know this is harsh, but the reality for those who don’t fit the Eurocentric standard is much more harmful than me calling a spade a spade. Celebrating actions that should have been a staple in their business paradigm is not a win for the fight for inclusivity and diversity, so the next time one of our favourites demands flowers for the bare minimum, give them thorns.

9. Promote Consumer Understanding of Fashion Inclusivity.

Consumers and fashion influencers are at the top of the fashion hierarchy and we have a responsibility to each other to hold these brands accountable. Having a basic understanding of the business model behind inclusive fashion is a great start to stronger consumer literacy.

There are many fun, educational books on this topic (hmm, maybe that will be my next article?) however, for now, these are some things you can look for when deciding to support a brand. When browsing, look for adequate size options- if a brand does not offer inclusive size and has no plans to, perhaps this is not a company you want to support. This is the same for their representation; how many models of colour do you see? And are they all able bodied? I know when I shop, I become uncomfortable if I don’t see diverse advertising.

Other things to consider are what does their mission statement promise? Is senior management doing enough to ensure diversity and inclusivity in all positions? I know this sounds like a lot of work for the consumer, but I promise it’s not because the intention of the brand should be easily seen on the landing page of their websites, on each billboard in their stores, and hanging on each rack.

10. Just because it is inclusive does not mean the quality of the garment is.

Inclusive sizing also means inclusive quality. The A cup bra serving support should be equal to the triple D cup, if not, the only thing the garment is giving is a lot of back pain. The same rule applies for the shape, lining and cut of the clothes, regardless of what size one purchases, every size should look flattering in their personal style.

We have many reasons to be optimistic about fashions future and also for the body empowered mindset of Gen Z and future generations. For millennials (victims of the unforgivable Y2K era of body shaming, eating disorders and virtually no size inclusivity) publications like these are important and necessary because they unapologetically confront the idea that the respect of an individual is dependant on how they look. A prominent criticism that was not well received back then. So go forward and be unafraid to hold brands accountable and improve your fashion literacy because at the end of the day, this is business, and if they want our money then as consumers we deserve their respect.

Raevin Larue


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Published: August 30 2022  |  Author: Raevin Larue  |  Tagged: None