Fashion weeks across the globe are the platforms for designers to showcase next season’s collections to the press, buyers and the public. But this New York Fashion Week, the biggest trend to emerge from the catwalk was diversity. We’re hoping this isn’t a passing phase that gets swept away next season, but something that is set to continue, with fashion pushing the boundaries of what we consider “the norm.” NYFW is setting a high mark by welcoming participants and models of many backgrounds to the catwalk this season. The runways are seeing more ethnicities, gender identities, sexual orientations, sizes and abilities than ever before.
Last year, plus size model Denise Bidot made history as one of the first plus size models to walk for straight size designers when she modelled for the brand CHROMAT. Their runway show on Saturday again featured plus-size models Denise Bidot and our Simply Be model Joss as well as trans gender women and girls from all ethnicities. Becca McCharen, the brands founder was quoted saying ‘I’m so against all white, straight, skinny girl runways. That just doesn’t reflect my reality and who I am and who the Chromat woman is.’ The whole collection, she said, was inspired by Martine Rothblatt, a trans gender woman who is America’s highest paid female CEO.
Kanye West’s x Adidas NYFW show saw 50 assembled men and women – standing in rows, dressed in Yeezy Boost footwear by Adidas – but looking like no other catwalk seen at New York. There were standard tall and slim white models, but there were also wide-hipped, curvy short girls; black models with teased-out afros and bleached dreads; Asian, Latino and mixed race girls and boys of all shapes and colours.
Carrie Hammer made NYFW history by casting American Horror Story actress and disability advocate Jamie Brewer for her Spring Summer 15 show. Dressed in a cinched black skirt dress Jamie raised her arms in triumph as she walked down the runway. She certainly had good reason to, she is now in the record books as the first woman with Down Syndrome to walk in NYFW.
Models in wheelchairs and the world’s first male amputee also hit the catwalk this season at The FTL Moda’s AW15 show. Named FTL Moda Loving You, the show was held in collaboration with Fondazione Vertical – an Italian foundation supporting research to find a cure for spinal cord injuries. London-based agency Models of Diversity, were also involved.
Overall this season , NYFW achieved one heck of an accomplishment. But the question is, why not go a step further and inject a number of different shaped, sized and coloured models throughout all fashion weeks and seasons? The result would be inspiring, controversial and empowering. With Paris and Milan Fashion weeks still to come this season, we’re hoping designers will follow the NYFW example and allow for more diversity when choosing the models for their catwalks.