#TBT – Fashion Week Inclusivity

May 14, 2019

Editor’s Note: As we face another round of “swimsuit season” articles, Spesch wanted to share this fantastic roundup of New York Fashion Week, as it includes mention of a swimsuit brand that puts the focus on inclusivity and embraces the notion that all bodies are beach bodies!

Lauren Chan walks the runway at the Chromat Spring Summer 2018 fashion show during New York Fashion Week

An inclusive roundup of New York Fashion Week’s Fall 2019 Ready-to-Wear shows.

Get out your Miranda Hobbes Green, your prairiecore dresses, and your best hair accessories – New York Fashion Week’s Fall 2019 shows have officially wrapped and it’s time to take those trends to the street.

But we’re not here today to talk about street style. We’re here to talk about what we saw on the runway, more specifically what we’re finally seeing – a most diverse, intersectional collection of models that strutted their way down the runway.

Diversity on the Runway

It all started with Chromat, a swimsuit brand who has proudly and consistently been the much needed foil to Victoria’s Secret. Their show featured a diverse range of bodies: sizes, abilities, ages, and genders. Not only is it a breath of fresh air to see 83% models of colour in their show, it was even more inspiring to see a model with a prosthetic leg and crutches, models of visibly older ages, trans models of colour and body diversity not unlike what you would actually see at the beach.  

And then there was 11 Honouré’s first ever runway, which introduced a capsule collection of body inclusive garments from multiple designers under their own umbrella label, including gowns and other looks from well known labels like Joseph Altuzarra, Christopher Kane, Brandon Maxwell, and Prabal Gurung who previously did not embrace inclusive sizing. And guess what? There was not a frumpy sweater in sight. The collection was filled with colour pieces that fit the models’ curves, that cinched and hugged in the most amazing ways, and oversized pieces that were designed to compliment their bodies, falling in glorious silhouettes. The show closed with an emotional 2 minutes of Laverne Cox dancing up and down the runway, causing a smile to happen upon your face with a mix of pride, excitement, and hope.

And of course Gypsy Sport, a line that has been eschewing gender norms since its inception. With androgynous style that goes past women in suits, their garments are created to be worn by anyone with a focus on personal style and sustainability, rather than enforcing any old rules like whether or not men can wear dresses and makeup. This year’s runways featured a visibly pregnant model, a breast cancer survivor who underwent a double mastectomy, drag queens, transgender and non-binary models, all of whom also represented a realistic array of body types.

Other designers of note who are helping grow NYFW’s inclusivity are: Christopher John Rogers,  who featured many models with a focus on subverting the gender binary. Collina Strada, whose tie dye and water bottle aesthetic outshone everything. Rachel Comey, Creatures of Comfort, and The Blonds who heavily featured models-over-50 without attempting to hide their signs of age. And finally, Rebecca Minkoff and Sherri Hill, who both featured hijab wearing models – something that was nearly unheard of just two years ago.

Diversity on the runway has come leaps and bounds in the past few seasons – and still has a long way to go – but watching fashion brands who are becoming more inclusive and intersectional is a cause for celebration. These aforementioned designers, and many more emerging and smaller scale design houses, are working to break down the barriers that have been held up by fashion for too long.

It’s no longer time for street style to reflect what’s on the runway, but for the runways to reflect who we’re seeing on the streets. So put on your deconstructed patchwork dresses, your beaded barrettes, your three piece suits. Wear them with pride, because style is 90% confidence, and we’re 100% sure that representation in fashion is only going to grow from here.

By Olivia Latta