SOCIAL REFORM IN FASHION
As we get adjusted to 2017, many of you fashionistas (both in and outside of the industry) are preparing to revamp yourselves, whether it’s your eating habits, relationships, or closets (our favorite kind of revamping here at P.S 13). However, closets and ex-boyfriends weren’t the only things revamped in 2016 (and we assume 2017). Last year was a year of dramatic change for the fashion industry. In 2016, social responsibility took the industry by its horns and toppled it over.
Diversity for one became a greater topic of discussion. Due to the calls and demands from new age models, such as, Jourdan Dunn to OGs like Bethann Hardison and Naomi Campbell, and an uprising of what some would call “a modern day black panther movement”; Black Lives Matter (BLM), white designers and executives have taken a sharper notice to the pigment of their models. For his fall 2016 show, New York based designer Zac Posen used his runway for a powerful declaration against racism by casting all models of color.
A plus sized black woman walks the runway at Chromat.
In addition to race diversity, body diversity and inclusion was also introduced at the table. Major social media and ad campaigns encouraged the inclusion of curvier body types. Designer Christian Siriano blazed a trail by casting five top plus size models in his show this year and also collaborating with Lane Bryant, marking his official second collection with the brand. Chromat killed the comp with the ultimate inclusive runway show. Designer Becca McCharen race, body, and gender inclusive throughout her show with plus size models of color and an amputee model who felt beautiful by rocking her bionic leg.
An amputated woman walks the runway sporting her bionic leg
Everyone from the most dominant corporations to contemporary start-upswere bit by the bug. Kering, the luxury conglomerate which roster includes Balenciaga, Saint Laurent, and Gucci, has recently just introduced a beneficial parental leave agreement, The group introduced its policy which illustrates a "minimum of 14 weeks of paid maternity or adoptive leave and five days of paternity or partner leave, beginning Jan. 1, 2017 for all employees who have worked there for more than a year" (Safronova, 2016). Ministry of Supply, a fashion tech startup that has combined traditional work clothing, with functional sport fabrics, has found a way to make mental health a key function of their mission statement. It has done this by allowing flexible work days, days to work from home, and generous paid time off to allow its workers reasonable time manage life outside of work, therefore, engaging much better in the office.
Ministry of Supply specializes in fashion tech
Despite such growth within the industry, unfortunately there has been counterproductive incidents as well. For his spring/summer 2017 presentation, New York based designer, Marc Jacobs sent models down the running sporting dreadlocks but discredited the influence of Black or Rasta culture. To add insult to injury, when pressed about the appropriation, Jacobs responded “all who cry ‘cultural appropriation’ or whatever nonsense about any race of skin color wearing their hair in a particular style or manner – funny how you don’t criticize women of color for straightening their hair”. Major backlash on social media left Jacobs to respond "… I thank you for expressing your feelings. I apologize for the lack of sensitivity unintentionally expressed by my brevity. I wholeheartedly believe in freedom of speech and freedom to express oneself though art, clothes, words, hair, music … EVERYTHING. Of course I do “see” color but I DO NOT discriminate. THAT IS A FACT! Please continue to express your feelings freely but do it kindly. Nothing is gained from spreading hate by name calling and bullying.” A little too late Marc, don't you think?
A model walks the runway at Marc Jacobs sporting the “dread lock” style and black twitter reacts.
All in all, we hope 2017 is the year of progress in the fashion industry. We hope to see designers, stylist, pr executives, and business owners to closely analyze subjects that usually very sensitive outside of the fashion realm. We hope to see a return to fashion questioning touchy subjects versus igniting more ignorance and to return to a time when fashion spoke to the ways of society.