Establishment European fashion has not acknowledged that women who wear above a size four even exist. When will this change?
By Hilary George-Parkin
Written for and originally published to Refinery29 on August 7th, 2018.
As much progress as there is still to be made in the name of body diversity within American fashion (and there’s plenty), the runways of New York Fashion Week are no longer off-limits to plus-size models. Retailers are beginning to listen to their customers and expand their size offerings, and more brands entering the market for the first time, seizing an opportunity they’d ignored for far too long. Starting in earnest back in 2004 with Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, mainstream fashion magazines began casting plus-size models like Ashley Graham in their pages to much fanfare, setting the stage for consumers to harness the power of social media to amplify conversations around brand campaigns that celebrate diverse bodies — and, conversely, to tear those that don’t to shreds. At the very least, inclusivity is not being ignored.
Which makes it all the more puzzling to watch Fashion Week after Fashion Week go by in London, Milan, and Paris and see barely any change in the range of bodies sent down the runway, or shown within the social media accounts of most luxury brands. Establishment European fashion has not acknowledged that women who wear above a size four even exist. According to The Fashion Spot’s annual diversity report, of the 30 curve models cast in the fall 2018 shows, only three walked in Paris (two for H&M and one for Alexander McQueen), while none walked in either London or Milan. Compare that to New York, where curve models were appeared on 10 runways, with two labels — Christian Siriano and Chromat — casting a combined 19 in their shows.