It’s no secret the fashion industry is slowly becoming more diverse. From embracing plus-size models to including various cultures, many fashion designers are developing open minds and progressing towards inclusiveness, rather than the exclusive stigma the fashion industry has developed.
Although fashion diversity seems to be a popular subject, this movement still has a long way to go. In fact, there were very few progressive movements during the Spring ’17 presentations, with NYFW being the only venue where diversity was reported. Still, the main issue here is awareness, which is why’re we’re highlighting 5 progressive milestones for the fashion industry:
1. Madeline Stuart Normalizing Down Syndrome
Less than two years ago, Madeline Stuart captured the fashion industry with her runway debut as a model with Down syndrome. However, her disability hasn’t stopped the Australian-born model from pursuing her dreams. In fact, Madeline recently launched her own fashion label at New York Fashion Week. The collection is named 21 Reasons Why by Madeline Stuart, which plays off the main characteristic of Down syndrome — an extra copy of chromosome 21.
“By debuting her own fashion line and becoming a businesswoman, she is showing other individuals with Down syndrome that is it OK to have your own hopes and aspirations,” says Sara Hart Weir, president of the National Down Syndrome Society. “The expectations for children with Down syndrome are higher than ever.”
2. Jillian Mercado Proving Strength Comes in Many Forms
Meet Jillian Mercado, a woman who has muscular dystrophy. The start of Jillian’s fame occurred when she was chosen as a model for Beyoncé’s apparel line, proving even wheelchair-bound women can be as fierce as Queen Bee. Since then, Jillian has appeared in ads for Diesel, Nordstrom, and is now represented by IMG Models.
3. J.Crew Goes Suburban
Instead of hiring traditional models, J.Crew selected a unique group of people to debut their Spring/Summer ’17 collection at New York Fashion Week. The brand featured friends, family, and staffers between the ages of 13-70 as the models, which included artists, teachers, bartenders, parents, athletes, kids, and more.
4. Christian Siriano: Fashion’s Most Inclusive Designer
Christian Siriano had a number of firsts at his Spring 2017 presentation, and he is now being considered fashion’s most inclusive designer. The show featured multiple plus-size models, including Georgia Pratt, Sabina Karlsson, Precious Lee, Marquita Pring, and Alessandra Garcia Lorido. “We want to make sure that the collection feels cohesive,” he says. ”But we want to make sure that the models and the women wearing it are just as different as the women that shop in a store.”
5. Ashley Graham Is Fit To Be Inspiring
Ashley Graham has taken the fashion industry for a crazy ride over the past few years, but she’s not finished yet. Ashley first gained popularity for being a plus-size model, and her denim campaign for NYDJ is encouraged women to find what they are ‘Fit To Be’ — whether that is Fit To Be Powerful, Fit to Be Sexy, or Fit to Be Confident. The campaign also included models Christie Brinkley, Bridget Moynahan, and Lana Ogilvie.