For Young Fashion Labels, the Fashion Week Runway Is a Place for Inclusivity

Size diversity within the fashion industry has become an increasingly vital topic of conversation, and one that’s actually creating change: During the last year, we’ve seen designers like Christian Siriano, Prabal Gurung, and Michael Kors expand their casting to include plus-size models. The spring 2018 round of shows—showcased last September—was a record breaker for curves on the runway. By our count, 208 women were above sample size throughout the season, which made advocates hopeful for a more inclusive industry.

While body-diverse representation hasn’t been quite as widespread during the fall 2018 shows so far—which kicked off last week in New York—it’s absolutely been present and accounted for thanks to a cluster of young labels that treat diversity as a nonnegotiable part of their DNA, not just as an industry trend.

Take Chromat, for example. Started in 2010 by designer Becca McCharren-Tran, the New York–based brand has been unwavering in its commitment to casting a range of people that—as the designer put it—”explodes our historically narrow ideal of beauty.” In Chromat’s case, this means showcasing a range of different bodies, yes, but also varied ethnicities, races, ages, and ability levels across the gender spectrum.

Chromat AW18 Runway Show At NYFW - Backstage

The model board backstage at Chromat’s Fall 2018 show.

“If you never see anyone that looks like you in [the] contexts of fashion and beauty, it makes you wonder: Is there something wrong with me? Am I not considered beautiful?” McCharen-Tran says.

For shows, the brand works with casting director Gilleon Smith to bring a true range of individuals into the room, usually via an open call—a strategy that a growing number of young labels are adopting.

“I do my casting by reaching out to people on the street and on social media, about three months before a show,” says Rio Uribe, the founder and designer of Gypsy Sport—the New York brand that bills itself as “independent and inclusive.” From there, he’ll bring everyone together at a big party, and whittle down the list from “300-plus people to 30,” with the help of Anthony Conti, his longtime casting director. The results pay off: The label is one that consistently pushes the boundaries of a traditional “fashion show” with its disruptive mix of models.

Gypsy Sport - Runway - February 2018 - New York Fashion Week

Uribe with his models on the runway at Gypsy Sport’s Fall 2018 show.

“It’s important for me to see people of all sizes and colors on my runway,” says Uribe. “I want young boys and girls of all genders, sizes, and races to see a Gypsy Sport show and know that there’s a space for them in this industry.” During his fall 2018 presentation at New York Fashion Week, he brought along model and trans activist Munroe Bergdorf, reality stars the Clermont twins, 10-year-old “drag kid” Desmond Is Amazing, among other interesting talent as part of a diverse, sensational showing. “My collections are always a reflection of my friends,” the designer explains. “Style and individuality are way more important to me than fashion or trends.”

The idea of casting people that resemble your group of friends might seem a little inside-baseball, but it’s actually a pretty powerful tool in today’s social-media-obsessed world, one in which we’re all hungry for authenticity, in all its forms.

“I subconsciously look for girls I would be friends with,” says designer Alexia Elkaim of It Girl denim brand Miaou. “Someone with charm and attitude; a [wink] of confidence…. I want Miaou to be the brand I wish I had growing up.”


A look from Miaou’s Fall 2018 show.

Before launching her label, Elkaim’s background was in casting, so she’s seen exactly how the industry evolved as far as how it books its models. Now it’s more about personality than look, she says, with brands hungry for individuality—a trend she describes as “inspiring and modern.”

For designer Hillary Taymour of New York ready-to-wear label Collina Strada—a brand for “independent humans embracing a positively fluid attitude,” per its website—casting her fall 2018 show began with “a specific concept”: a runway wedding. For it to come to life, she needed her models to “feel real”—as if they were actual bridesmaids, flower girls, grandparents, and babies attending someone’s nuptials. “I start by calling in the biggest, [most] diverse range of humans to see what we can find and then decide from there,” she says. “Diversity is always a big factor when we decide on the cast.”

Collina Strada - Runway - February 2018 - New York Fashion Week


A look from Collina Strada’s Fall 2018 show.

In past seasons, Taymour mounted a show dedicated to Black Lives Matter, and one featuring all male models, to dismantle ideas about gendered clothing). Not only is it a helpful storytelling tool; it also—crucially—“helps relate to a different customer base,” she says. “I also think it just looks more real and interesting.”

The optics of having a diverse runway can have a deep impact outside Fashion Week too. “As a kid, I thought I was too brown and too poor to be part of the fashion industry—now I have a chance to dispel those disillusions for the next generations, and I’m intent on breaking down barriers however I can,” explains Uribe, but admits the chase for authenticity is one labels need to be cautious with. “In the last few years, bigger brands [have been] catching on, but there’s a lot of token casting. [I] don’t want to name any brands—at least they’re trying.”

Gypsy Sport - Runway - February 2018 - New York Fashion Week


A look from Gypsy Sport’s Fall 2018 show.

Elkaim says that for Miaou, having a diverse group of women represent the brand isn’t “a conscious effort I make in trying to check boxes.” Since its first Fashion Week presentation, the brand has shown its collection on a range of bodies, both sample-sized and not. “People were pleased to see the diversity in the castings—it commodified inclusivity,” she says. “We aren’t a brand that tries to make a statement about it as much as we do what feels natural. We had a really positive response about how ‘natural’ the casting felt. Elkaim also says she carries an assortment of sizes in her samples, “so I can cast a wide range of body types.”

For Chromat, casting has been incredibly valuable to the brand’s visibility, especially when it introduced curve models to its spring 2015 runway. “At the time, no one was doing it,” McCharen-Tran says. “Now there are more plus models [at Fashion Week], and I hope runways continue to become more inclusive and reflect the beauty in diversity.”

Chromat AW18 Runway Show At NYFW - Backstage

Two models backstage at Chromat’s Fall 2018 show.

For Taymour, casting diversity across the board is a positive movement that’s starting to feel less like a trend. “It’s no longer a shock to the audience, and I think we’ve come a long way to make it more apparent, especially during Fashion Week.”

Still, as always, there’s room to grow, and it’s up to young labels to continue to push forward. After all, opening the doors of your brand to a wide range of people—of different body types, of different experiences—isn’t only beneficial for your bottom line (it’s good press, and good business), but it can also expand your creative scope.

Collina Strada - Runway - February 2018 - New York Fashion Week


Taymour and one of her models on the runway at Collina Strada’s Fall 2018 show.

“I’ve learned a lot as a designer [over the years, and the castings have helped [with that],” says Taymour. “I love meeting new people, making new friends, and bringing them into our small Collina Strada family. Being able to portray an image or feeling with another human with my clothes is the best part [of designing]—for me, when a look comes alive on someone in a fitting, [that’s] the best feeling.”


‘Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion and Disco’ Bought by Film Movement

Film Movement has acquired U.S. distribution rights to James Crump’s documentary “Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex Fashion & Disco” for a release in September, with digital and home entertainment releases to follow

The film has screened at BFI London Film Festival, IDFA Amsterdam and DOC NYC, where it won the Metropolitan Grand Jury prize. “Antonio Lopez 1970,” produced by Crump and Ronnie Sassoon, is a time capsule of Paris and New York between 1969 and 1973 as viewed through the eyes of Lopez, regarded as the
dominant fashion illustrator of the time.

His discoveries included Cathee Dahmen, Grace Jones, Pat Cleveland, Tina Chow, Jessica Lange, Jerry Hall and Warhol Superstars Donna Jordan, Jane Forth and Patti D’Arbanville. The film uses archival footage and stills of studio life in Carnegie Hall, Max’s Kansas City and Hotel Chelsea and original interviews with Lange, Cleveland, Jordan, Forth and D’Arbanville, fashion photographer Bill Cunningham in his very last interview, Grace Coddington, Joan Juliet Buck, Michael Chow, Bob Colacello, Corey Tippin, and Paul Caranicas.

“Antonio Lopez 1970” features music by Donna Summer, Marvin Gaye, Evelyn “Champagne” King, Isaac Hayes, Curtis Mayfield and Chic and the Temptations.

“James Crump delivers audiences to a truly exciting moment in time with ‘Antonio Lopez,’” said Michael Rosenberg, president of Film Movement. “And while Lopez’s story may be unfamiliar to many, James’ film informs and enriches in the most dazzling way.”

Take cover! The balaclava’s finest fashion moments – from Calvin Klein to Kanye West

Not one to shy away from making his fashion shows a social and political commentary, Raf Simons continued his provocative streak at Calvin Klein at New York fashion week on Tuesday. His sartorial weapon of choice this season? The balaclava.

As one of the most connotation-laden pieces of headgear – associated with war and terror, concealment and protection – it is surely no coincidence that Simons made it a focal point. Last season, his collection took its cue from classic horror stories, with American Vogue noting the US was “proving fertile territory” for Belgian-born and previously Paris-based Simons, “even if the country is living through its own very real horror story”. This season’s collection was “the latest chapter in rewriting what an all-American icon looks like in a world of fire and fury”, noted this paper, albeit with less horror and more hope, according to the designer. As a result, his balaclavas swapped hostile for homemade, knitted in jolly pastel two-tone hues.

Simons’ vision for autumn/winter 2018, however, is not the first time we have seen the balaclava become a fashion statement:


Beyoncé in her On the Run video.
 Beyoncé in her On the Run video. Photograph:

A frequent advocate of the balaclava, Beyoncé has not only been seen in a style by Louis Vuitton, but also a fishnet variation, which she wore on her 2014 On The Run tour.

Cara Delevingne

Cara Delevingne wears her heart on her head.
 Cara Delevingne wears her heart on her head. Photograph: Beretta/Sims/Rex/Shutterstock

Papped on multiple occasions in varying styles, the model-turned-actor conducted an entire to-camera interview backstage at the September 2013 Burberry show wearing a balaclava emblazoned with the letters BS. She labelled the look “fashion anarchy”.

Justin Bieber

Bieber ‘channels’ Chanel.
 Bieber ‘channels’ Chanel. Photograph: Justin Biener / Instagram

Biebs got in on the action in 2013 with an upmarket balaclava from Chanel. Unfortunately, when he took to Instagram to share the snap, he credited the brand “Channel”.

Kanye West

Kanye West in red balaclava
 We know who you are … Kanye West attempts disguise himself. Photograph: Collet Guillaume/Sipa/Rex/Shutterstock

In 2013, West attempted to go incognito at the Maison Martin Margiela haute couture show in Paris by wearing a red balaclava, which, of course, resulted in the opposite effect (or perhaps, in fact, the intended reaction all along).

Why Is the Fashion Industry Stuck in the ’90s?


It’s true. There is nothing new under the sun. Barring technological advancements, all ideas and concepts have been thought of or done before. This is particularly apparent in the fashion industry which has a habit of recycling aesthetics to reintroduce them to a new generation. We’re currently living in the revival of the ‘90s and it feels as though the throwback moment has lasted a little too long.

What is making us so nostalgic for a time that happened just 20 years ago? Is it a lack of inspiration or is it information overload? Many designers blame the Internet for the frequent circulation of content, making it easier for people to simply replicate buzz without actually creating anything. At this point, it feels a bit perplexing that brands are reaching into their archive and bringing back styles that haven’t even had a chance to be fully forgotten.

Almost everyone is guilty of encouraging the logo trend that has swept the field. Logos are getting bigger and more outrageous thanks in part to social media. Without a logo, most garments are almost unrecognizable, and that does not work in a time when labels still hold a great deal of weight. Streetwear imprints learned from European strongholds like Louis Vuitton and Gucci that brand identity is of the utmost importance. It’s no surprise that brands like Kappa and Umbrohave snuck back up in the ranks thanks to their signature logos that can be seen trailing along track pants and hoodies.

Logo-mania, track suits, overalls, and chunky sneakers have all returned to haunt us all in a time when we should be more creative than ever. Luxury and streetwear labels alike have been pulling heavily from their archives to repurpose old styles, textures and shapes. This has resulted in a market that is saturated with dated fashion. Brands like Tommy Hilfiger, FILA and Champion have capitalized on this phenomenon, flooding the market with nostalgic gear in hues that appeal to millennials. The clothing is not new but it manipulates the psyche of people who see the ’90s as a better time — not only for fashion but life in general. Millennials often romanticize the pre-Internet era thinking of it as a time when things were easier and more enjoyable. This may or may not be true, but right now, the myth has outpaced the truth.

Footasylum New Year Sames Waves Campaign


This attempt to regain relevancy is more obvious for some retailers. Gap has recently launched a “Logo Remix” campaignfronted by the likes of SZA and Awkwafina looking to attract the millennial gaze. Its oversized “GAP” text logo is ballooned and pasted on crewneck sweaters, tees and other pieces. The sentiment behind the casting of the campaign was forward-thinking, but the designs left much to be desired. Children of the ’90s have seen this before — what’s next?

The likes of Frankie Collective and Daniëlle Cathari have smartly tapped this resource of women who long to achieve the ’90s look by creating its own one-of-a-kind items. This approach is innovative in that the designs offer a fresh perspective while still smartly referencing those of the past. In particular, Frankie Collective’s practice of reworking vintage pieces to create something new is not only profitable, but it also reduces impact on the environment. The existence of the retailer demonstrates the strong demand for garments that can be styled to get the cozy, tomboyish look that is seen everywhere.

Footasylum New Year Sames Waves Campaign


Even Lil Miquela, Instagram‘s first virtual influencer, succumbs to the ’90s trend sporting buzzy pieces like Calvin Klein‘s sports bra and oval-shaped sunglasses (popularly referred to as clout goggles). The phenomenon is simply inescapable. And with the launches of each season, we see that retailers are committed to milking this trend dry. Not only is this time warp jarring, it can’t be helping with the advancement of the industry. With fast fashion speeding up the season cycle and simultaneously polluting the environment, there needs to be a stronger counteractive force that ushers us fully into the 21st century. As a child of the ’90s, I ask that we leave the ’90s where it belongs  — in the past — and for us as a community to act as though the early 2000s never happened.

Tom Ford keeps the Fashion Week buzz going with a crazy ’80s, vegan-friendly women’s show

Of course, not all the fur on display was real. The newly-minted vegan has indicated that with a shift in diet, a faux fur fashion shift wouldn’t be far off.

Gillian Anderson Poses Nude for ‘Liberating’ PETA Billboard Debuting During Fashion Week

elebrities who would “rather go naked than wear fur.” And The X-Files star proved just that in PETA‘s latest campaign aiming to prevent the cruel treatment of animals in the fashion industry and beyond.

The Emmy winner wears nothing but a pair of costume cat ears and a huge smile in PETA’s newest ad, which will be featured on a 70-foot billboard hanging over Penn Station during New York Fashion Week this month.

“I found it liberating to use my body to make an important statement,” Anderson, 49, says of teaming with PETA for the powerful photo shoot. “People tend to look away from anti-fur ads showing mangled animals, but they’re drawn to PETA’s ‘naked’ campaign, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Courtesy PETA

In the past, stars like Pink and Taraji P. Henson have stripped down for PETA’s fashion week ads to protest the use of fur on the runway.

“I would like to say I’ve always been fur-free,” Pink said after her billboard was revealed in February 2015. “Unfortunately, I went through a selfish phase and wore fur on a couple of occasions. But I wised up and now boycott fur completely.”

Pink posed for PETA's "I'd rather be naked than wear fur" campaign in 2015.

Pink posed for PETA’s “I’d rather be naked than wear fur” campaign in 2015.

More and more designers have stopped using fur and joined PETA’s cause after year’s of protests from the animal-rights organization. Most recently, Michael Kors and Gucci announced their collections would no longer include real fur.

In 2015, Anderson teamed up for a PETA TV spot which followed the series finale of her cannibal-themed NBC show Hannibal. Anderson and Hannibal producer Bryan Fuller put together the shock ad (below), which shows the actress sitting down to dinner with her leg as the main course.

Kiev Fashion Week: The Next Wave Of Eastern Block Talents

waddled in Lenki Lenki puffa jackets, Ukraine Fashion Week’s show-goers shuttled between Kiev’s former post office, a skating rink, and the main former Arsenal building to take in the autumn/winter 2018 collections. The question is now that the post-soviet fashion fervour has cooled, how do labels carve out the future? Brands with over 20 years history showed alongside young upstarts and taste for dapper tailoring, hard-edged glamour and innovative bricolage is the next chapter in style. Here’s our pick of the breakout talents.