Growing up through my teens and watching designers on international stages were all positive experiences for me until I reached the age of 17. My body developed entirely and I became curvier. Instead of embracing my body transformation I was tormented by the thought that I should look skinny to look good. It appeared that designers only wanted one body type and sample size to showcase their collections.
Recently in an editors' letter, British Vogue editor-in-chief Alexandra Shulman said Ashley Grahams cover shoot for the magazine was a "fairly last-minute affair" and many brands "flatly refused" to lend or make clothes for the model that was outside of the regular sample size.
There is no denying that we still have a long way to go but for this blog I want to focus on the designers who actually do embrace diversity and are contributing to that needed change. In 2016, there are more designers than ever before breaking the mould and embracing diversity.
1. Kimberley Newport-Mimran
Kimberley launched Pink Tartan in 2002 showing that women of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages can confidently wear her line of clothing. Mimran often talks about her vertical lines and how she strategically places them to enhance the natural shape of a woman's body. Pink Tartan is a brand that embraces the fact that all bodies are different in shape and size. When asked how she caters to all the different women body types world wide she answers "fabric, fit and design" and when you put the three together you have the perfect design.
2. Hayley Elsaesser
Hayley is a Canadian born fashion designer and most famous for electric and vibrant prints. Hayley makes a point of not always hiring models from modelling agencies. Instead she choses all different diverse types of people who bring her clothes to life. Clothes for curvier women are a natural part of Hayley's collection. Size isn't the only diverse aspect of Hayley's brand as a her runway shows are home to people of different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and genders. Watch Hayley's recent interview.
3. Lesley Hampton
Lesley is a first Canadian Toronto based fashion designer recognised by Vogue UK two seasons in a row. Her brand celebrates people of all backgrounds and embraces diversity on the catwalk. In Vancouver Fashion Week 2016 Lesley braided her models hair's sending the internet into a frenzy calling it the latest trend. Lesley is largely influenced by her first Canadian culture and says that her unique runway ideas come from her love of culture. Her fashion reveals her heritage to the world. Identity and culture are what make her brand so unique.
The @lesley_hampton Spring Summer 2017 debut at @vanfashionweek finale walk 💎💎 forever thankful. 💎 And thankyou to the VFW partners @ellecanada @flaremag @metro #fashion #vancouver #toronto #vfw #vfwss17 #ss17 #design #couture #vanfashionweek #sequins #gown #slay #runway #fashionshow #gold #white #black #floral #diversity #nativedesigner #nativeamerican #firstnations #plussizefashion #plussize #menswear #womenswear image by @ktrcll
4. Christopher Paunil
Established in 2010 Christopher Paunil started out designing wedding dresses. In 2013 his ready to wear collection was launched. Christopher places all his emphases on how the dresses will make the woman feel. He quotes in a interview with the CAFA Awards " When I design something I want to make sure that my work can flatter a broad range of sizes and body types". In 2016 Paunil reconfirmed his love for diversity in fashion when he teamed up with the #BeBodyAware, a campaign that activity advocates change for inclusivity within the fashion industry. Christopher's runway shows are graced with models of all different body shapes and ethnicities.
5. Brian Bailey
Bailey is known worldwide for his garments that flatter the natural curves and shape of the body. Bailey continues to embrace diversity and women of all sizes and is one of the few Canadian designers who supply to both the straight and plus-size markets. On his Instagram Brian recently spoke of his excitement for the debut plus size women's wear on the 17th of December. Brian is a designer who has shown great consistency and passion towards the plus size industry. If all designers followed his example the world would be a much better place.
For more on Diversity in Fashion visit @BeBodyAware or use our #BeBodyAware
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