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The Fashion Industry in 2020: Inclusivity, Diversity, Sustainability and more

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Inclusivity & Diversity

The Fashion Industry in 2020: Inclusivity, Diversity, Sustainability and more

Inclusive and diverse models posing for the fashion show

Featured Image: The Fashion Spot

Fashion has touched every culture in the world. It can spark powerful conversations and give individuals a sense of belonging. It is meant to show one’s personality and creativity. Although fashion may be meant for every person, this of course has never been the case in the industry. Instead, it (the industry) has marginalized women and men who may have a different skin tone, body type, or disability, which has resulted in a negative stigma towards fashion. So, with everything going on in 2020, how is the business of Fashion changing?

Rewind to the 1970’s and the Battle of Versailles

A fashion show that was meant to shake the world. Five American designers were up against five French designers. Back then, the French set the trends in fashion, while Americans followed suit. The French came equipped with their conventional mindsets and limited diversity in models. The Americans had models with the likings of Liza Minnelli and women of color. Daring and different, this fashion show resulted in the Americans to take the win. It catapulted the fashion industry into highlighting diversity in their shows and prints throughout the 1970s and ’80s. Then as easily as it arrived, diversity in fashion disappeared.

Battle of Versailles, 1973. Credit: A.G. Nauta Couture

In recent years, large name brands have made the change, adding diversity into their shows. Spring 2020 Fashion Week highlighted the largest representation in terms of models walking. In comparison, the 2020 Fall fashion week came in short, noting a small percentage of change in how many diverse models were walking. Is the fashion industry taking a step back in representation, or is it just a coincidence in the minimal dip? Only time will tell as we approach the 2021 season. (Article was also written prior to the NYFW Spring 2021 shows. Review a report on how the recent it played out, here).

2020’s Influence: Protests and Ethics

Globally, we can agree that 2020 has been an intense year (by this point, let’s hope that the surprises are coming to an end). There have been many tragedies, followed by huge ‘awakenings’. For instance, the death of George Floyd has not only led to protests across America, it has also received an overwhelming response worldwide. Like a domino effect, the protests and BLM movement have catapulted an awareness for inclusivity and diversity within every aspect of our culture, from sports to politics and of course, fashion. More than ever, there is a need for representation in underrepresented communities.

Unlike before, designers can no longer only have plus-size models in their prints and shows deeming that this suffices their advocacy for the underrepresented. There is a call for change. Not only simply changing the face of the company,  but also diversifying the decision-makers at the top. Businesses are now creating action boards and new management positions based on the need for inclusivity. So what deems a company to be successful and inclusive? Companies like Vogue have constant conversations on inclusivity, along with Virgil Abloh’s achievement of becoming the first black artistic director for LVMH. Additionally, Tommy Hilfiger has set themselves apart by creating their 2019 Adaptive line that highlights clothing for disabled adults and kids. There have been substantial adjustments made to show many company’s efforts towards change.

Tommy Hilfiger Adaptive line promo, Source: LA Times

With enhanced awareness on inclusivity, the consumers’ consciousness on where and how they are receiving their clothes are becoming top-of-mind. Suddenly, the conversation of fashion sustainability and work labor in foreign countries is being highlighted, especially on social media platforms. Many influencers are spreading awareness for a need for sustainable wardrobes by highlighting the negatives of fast fashion.  Fashion companies are not only experiencing pressure to become more inclusive but also the labor ethics they face towards making their products. Are the companies who participate in fast fashion adding to the ever-increasing problem of consumer waste? What about the individuals who work tireless hours to only earn the bare minimum? These are the questions that are arising and need to be addressed.

“…awareness has taken place, and hopefully keeps pulling us forward”

2020 has been a whirlwind. Despite the tragic events that have happened this year, there is a sense of real change that is working toward being beneficial for all groups, shapes, and sizes. Fashion has helped so many people show their true selves, and even more so, it has helped them FEEL their best selves. Fashion has given love and passion to countless individuals. It is everywhere we look. Maybe the consciousness of being inclusive, representative, and sustainable has always been on our minds. However, a need for greater awareness has taken place and hopefully keeps pulling us forward. What do you feel the fashion industry is lacking, in terms of expanding inclusivity/diversity across all roles? What actions do you think the industry can do to make positive changes?

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