How inclusive is the current fashion industry?
27 june ‘22
The month of honor and representation is important to all of us. Or so it should be. Isn't it? While talking about the importance of diversity and inclusion in the fashion industry today, it is very valuable to talk about these issues. Let's dive into the article.
Words by Bilgesu Altunkan
Photo by Anna Shvets
We can say that inclusivity, and diversity, are words we hear frequently in every sector. It will be useful to understand these words, which have been emphasized in recent years. To begin the article, let's look at the definition of the word inclusivity. The Oxford Language Dictionary defines inclusion as the practice or policy of providing equal access to opportunities and resources to people who might otherwise be excluded or marginalized, such as those with physical or mental disabilities or those belonging to other minority groups.
An inclusive approach, holistic approach, diversity, and more…We hear these a lot in the fashion industry. Have you ever asked yourself why? Diversity and inclusivity have become components of online retail for fashion consumers. Brands that recognize the need for racial diversity, body inclusion, sexual representation, and representation of the disabled community are not only necessary, but they are also the future of fashion. When we look at the concept of fashion from a historical perspective, access to clothing products has not belonged to every class for centuries.
“ Each of us is naturally unique, and when you think about it, diversity applies to each of us. Details like talents, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, body shapes, skin color, hair color and more define each of us as incredible individuals ”
“ But the issue we're talking about, size inclusivity, is only part of the problem. What is currently facing increasing demand is the need for diversity in the fashion industry, particularly racial and ethnic diversity ”
Photo by Kamaji Ojino
Fashion has often been an element that highlights economic differences, wealth, wealth, and social status in societies. It has transformed from a basic need to a luxury. Thus, we can say that design has gone beyond body and form and has turned into a commodity. It is possible to get a lot of output by only looking at the fashion of the period in many definitions such as discrimination, superiority, intercultural differences, and period transitions for centuries. When it comes to fashion, it may be wrong to reduce inclusivity only to clothing sizes. Inclusivity is a phenomenon that should be considered from the very first point of the design. To understand the necessity of this phenomenon, let's look at 'diversity' in the fashion industry more generally.
Think about what you are consuming
The beauty of the fashion industry is that for every individual and component around us, there is a retailer out there – somewhere – to cater to it. We can say that the stores specialize in clothes for women who are plus size or small size, who need to cover for religious or health reasons, jeans made for tall and thin or shorter people, and clothes designed for sporty and curvy. Inclusion should also be considered for people with certain disabilities. Thus, inclusivity goes far beyond just considering the body in clothing. In recent years, consumers have become accustomed to seeing various faces, skin colors, and styles on the catwalks and brands instead of a uniform perception of beauty. It is a matter of brainstorming to think whether this is due to consumer demand tired of the unrealistic understanding of beauty or whether it is revealed by brands that realize that unreal beauty is no longer worth the money.
Photo by Anna Shvets
As Anastasia Matano mentioned in her article “Inclusive fashion is much more than the body,” the U.S. Unrealistic standards of beauty 0-4 sizes are no longer tolerated by the public, and the body positivity movement is "the biggest revolt against the lack of diversity and positive self-image in the fashion industry," according to Luxiders Magazine. At the same time, eating disorders, diets, and perfection, which have increased with the influence of social media, have been replaced by different currents that encourage us to love ourselves more, one of them is the body affirmation movement. Body positivity emerged as a social movement focused on the acceptance of all bodies, regardless of size, shape, skin tone, gender, and physical abilities, while challenging today's standards of beauty as an undesirable social construct. The constant demand of traditional modeling agencies to be “white, skinny, young and female” was one of the first aspects of fashion inclusivity to be highlighted in public. The Eurocentric narrative that beauty is the standard has greatly contributed to the lack of self-confidence that is so vividly found in both men and women. According to the Park Nicollet Melrose Center, about 70% of perfectly healthy women want to be slimmer, and 80% simply "don't like the way they look."
Photo by Anna Shvets
Photo by Anna Shvets
According to The Business of Fashion, the practice of "sometimes putting a non-white face on a magazine cover" isn't enough anymore, nor has it ever been. Fashion is meant to reflect the audience it serves, and that means ultimately representing people of color rather than targeting only white people. Racial and ethnic diversity is not limited to models whose faces appear on magazine covers; true diversity means hiring non-white stylists, designers, directors, and producers. This means creating fashion agencies with both a variety of staff and a variety of models because doing so brings "diversity in perspective." Making room for minority groups to build, create, design, and produce communities that have not hitherto been included in inclusion can lift the prejudices that human-made racial stigma has created and bind communities together.
But inclusivity doesn't stop there. Given that representation of the LGBTQ+ community is also an integral part of the future of fashion, the fashion industry better started to think about LGBTQ+ communities as well. At the same time, it is the representation of disabled people who make up 20% of the society in a group with a lack of representation. Taking action on this issue is one of the basic obligations that should be in an inclusive fashion ecosystem. However, while talking about these problems, the fact that the design is life-centric rather than being user-centric or customer-centric, meaning that it can be produced without harming the materials, all living things, and anyone in the production process, is again the subject of sustainability.