‘Really damaging’: Has the fashion industry turned its back on size inclusivity?
- The fashion industry has embraced all kinds of diversity in recent years, including size.
- Some fear those gains are being lost after a reduction in curve and plus-size models at major fashion weeks.
- Melbourne Fashion Festival is among the events being criticised for its lack of size inclusivity.
“I’ve felt the conversation shifting for a while, and it’s something that amongst my peers we’ve been quite vocal with each other about,” she said.
Jennifer Atilémile is an Australian-born model and activist. Source: Instagram / Jennifer Atilémile
Ms Atilémile, who’s based in Los Angeles, said she first suspected things were changing when Y2K fashion began to re-emerge, along with the extremely thin body ideal associated with it.
Milan, which has always been at the back of the pack, also regressed, while gains were made in London and Paris.
How does Australia compare?
“I had finally just absolutely cracked it because I could see what was coming through … I know which designers are going to be open to using different sizes and the ones that aren’t and I thought, ‘It’s just not going to get done again’,” she told SBS News.
The Curve Edit featured models of different shapes and sizes. Source: Getty / Caroline McCredie
It was the first time in AFW’s history that it featured a plus-size runway.
“I don’t think extending to an Australian, say, 16 is enough, but it was exciting to see more brands embrace extended size ranges,” she said.
“The models on that runway represent 1 per cent of the population. That is insane on every level.”
Chelsea Bonner is chief executive of BELLA Management and a former model. Source: Instagram / Chelsea Bonner
SBS News put Ms Bonner’s claims that BELLA’s emails were ignored directly to MFF, and asked to be provided with the number of individual curve and plus models used in the festival’s main runways.
“In addition, the festival played host to many events that had the specific purpose of promoting awareness and support for size inclusivity.”
Rani West, a size 14 model represented by BELLA Management, was among the curve models to walk at this year’s Melbourne Fashion Festival. Source: Getty / SOPA Images
One of those events was the Fabulous and Trendy (F.A.T.) runway, which featured models ranging from size 16 to 24, wearing clothing from Melbourne-based labels.
“With our runway, because it was all about not just fat representation but POC and queer representation, everyone felt welcomed and included.”
Source: Supplied / Laura Du Ve
But while F.A.T Runway was a “really empowering” experience for the models and the audience, Ms Wilkins couldn’t say the same for the rest of the festival.
“I went and saw one of their big runways, and there was one curve model who was maybe a size 14, if that, and that was it, that was our representation.”
Lucy Wilkins is a Melbourne-based fashion designer. Source: Instagram / Lucy Wilkins Fashion
Ms Atilémile said while it’s been “really sad” to see parts of the fashion industry treat size inclusivity as nothing more than a trend, she’s optimistic things can be turned around.