These brands are proving diversity is the future of fashion

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From the catwalk to your shopping cart, body positivity and gender fluidity are well and truly in style.

Anyone paying attention to the goings-on at New York Fashion Week may well have noticed something pleasantly surprising, beyond the beautiful clothes; the models walking in a number of the shows have been far more diverse than in previous years.

Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty show included models of all different races and body types, in what Harper’s Bazaar described as “an incredibly stunning, inclusive celebration of womanhood.” Meanwhile, Prabal Gurung’s show was a vibrant and global affair, featuring a lineup of models from more than 35 different countries; a conscious casting decision made by the designer to reflect her own “cross-cultural journey, one that sees no borders.” And the runway for Collection Seven by Marco Marco comprised a cast of entirely trans models.

“Although I have always had trans and non binary people in my shows, it became apparent to me that their presence was often overshadowed by cis gay men or cis gay men in drag,” designer Marco Morante told Mic. “I wanted to create a space to celebrate trans bodies. This was an opportunity for their presence to be undeniable and reinforce that trans is beautiful.”

A cynic might watch these shows and dismiss their diversity as a fad, but it’s also possible that this is evidence of a change in how industry leaders are thinking. The fashion industry has long been perceived as the province of an elite few, but more and more industry insiders than ever are keen to communicate a message that fashion can be and should be for everyone.

Just take fashion blogger Kellie Brown, for instance, who launched the #FatAtFashionWeek hashtag to show just how many stylish plus size women work in fashion, despite the reluctance of many houses and publications to acknowledge and include them.

Then there’s plus size model Tess Halliday, who graced the front cover of Cosmopolitan this month — and sparked a debate about whether it was “promoting obesity” (an accusation that has never been levelled against a plus size man).

 

From the runway to the high street, here are some of our favourite brands and retailers embracing nonconformity:

A Cold Wall

Great fashion should tell a story, and “protection wear”, certainly does that; it is apocalypse chic, streetwear that will see you through a nuclear fallout. Samuel Ross presented his gender fluid collection for A Cold Wall at NYFW, prompting Vogue to call protection wear the must-watch trend of the autumn.

Browns

Browns East in Mayfair, London, is based on a gender fluid, ready to wear shopping concept — and it has proven so popular that the brand is now headed Stateside, partnering with Fred Segal on an experiential space in Los Angeles.

Oasis

Following the success of its collaboration with Simply Be last year, high street mainstay Oasis is launching online plus size collection, Curve, this month. “We believe that everyone should be able to wear Oasis and feel great in it,” says brand director Sarah Welsh. “We have had fabulous feedback from our customers… it became increasingly clear that we should extend our offer further to include sizes 20 through 26.”

ASOS

E-retailer ASOS has dominated fast fashion and online shopping for a minute now, but its online catalogue is also representative of real people. “ASOS are smashing it, in my opinion,” says Charlie, 30. “The ASOS Curve range is huge now, plus they do tall and petite, and their models are far more racially diverse than a lot of other places.” What’s more, ASOS is launching a gender fluid label next month entitled Collusion, led by creatives including body positivity activist Grace Mandeville, YouTuber Spencer Elmer, and Girls Do Succeed founder Clarissa Henry.

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