THE RE\VIEW: AN ITEM CATALOG OF EXCLUSIVE RUNWAY REVIEWS, CRITIQUES & CULTURAL EVENTS, PAYING RESPECT TO THE WORLDS OF FASHION, ENTERTAINMENT & ART.
Diversity Always Matters:
Is size banning of greater interest?
When has the fashion industry ever not been criticized for promoting an unrealistic body image for consumers? From brand advertisements to the very models walking the catwalk, far and few insiders are practicing size diversity in their clothing campaigns. When these conversations are ignored, it largely puts the fashion world at risk from those looking in from the outside, to view it as superficial and vain. But this topic is a continuing conversation within the fashion realm that deserves a focus.
There is certainly something that the US fashion market (including its constituents) could learn from their counterpart in Paris, whom declared legal action in 2015 to better protect models. According to the BBC, "Models will need to provide a doctor's certificate attesting to their overall physical health, with special regard to their body mass index (BMI) - a measure of weight in relation to height."
Courtesy of Business Insider
At first, the previous version of the bill had set minimum BMI for models, which spark protest from modeling agencies around Paris. The final law put into place allows doctors to decide whether models are healthy enough to apply for jobs, based on if a model is too thin by taking into account their weight, age, and body shape.
"Exposing young people to normative and unrealistic images of bodies leads to a sense of self-depreciation and poor self-esteem that can impact health-related behavior," said France's Minister of Social Affairs and Health, Marisol Touraine, during the formation of the law.
According to eating disorders statistics estimated by the National Eating Disorder Association, in the USA alone, there are an estimated 30 million people suffer from an eating disorder, and the worldwide estimation figure is more than double that.
And maybe the use of body metric by size and ratio are something to widely consider in action, but are only in part to a bigger issue: size discrimination can still occur on both sides of the scale.
Paris is taking action and I will definitely give them that; similar to how Italy, Spain and Israel formed a law including similar notions. Israel's mandate even includes a tactic where brands are required to disclose to the public if the images they produced have been retouched. Imagine if we had that in the USA.
So I wondered then, if US law will soon follow or if brands will make a bigger change before that sea change happens? Well, some businesses are taking things into their own hands, as if it weren't in their capability to make a big impact before.
Two of the industries biggest luxury multi-conglomerates, LVMH and Kering, have chosen to ban size zero models from being cast in brand campaigns and on the runway. These include companies such as: Louis Vuitton, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Saint Laurent, Gucci, Alexander McQueen, and Balenciaga, to name a few. The initiative also serves as a nod to the Parisian labor laws to help further protect under legal age models against working overnight opportunities.
When the proclamation of change came to the adopted practice on early September 2017, Kering CEO Francois-Henri Pinault stated that he hopes, “to inspire the entire industry to follow suit", thus making a real difference in the working conditions of fashion models industry-wide.
Indeed, the effects may be felt, but will things really visually change to consumers when you see a size one or two compared to a zero? I'd say, it's a stretch. However, as great of an impact that comes from the decision to finally take a call to action on the size of models, I can't help but wonder if discriminating against a certain demographic is solely the answer. Though I – from a consumer stand point and independent brand that advocates diversity at every turn – do think that the measure is a step in the right direction, I find it is as equally important to showcase all body types: the big and the small and the averages that come between.
And from a larger consumer stand point, I completely agree that women should be able to see a more realistic point of view from these companies, while at the same time we also have to remember that the sole purpose of company advertisements is to create a connection with the consumer. It falls then, in both the hands of the brand agency and the individual consumer to dissect a message.
Banning one size from being shown in campaigns is no more deceptive than banning the use of its scaled opposite. We as an industry, need a wider adoption of size inclusivity at every opportunity: for instance, during model casting for shows, campaigns and editorials. And while it is a brands responsibility to showcase what they see fit for their consumers - it is as equally, if not more important - for consumers to take upon their own means of how they feed into a message. What I'm saying here, is that I think consumers should resonate with companies that preach a message of diversity in all categories: size, shape, color, age, gender, sexual orientation etc.
While brands can change the way they perform (when presented to buyers on a wide scale), it is also their corporate social responsibility and duty to do better when they can. This change is Kerning and LVMH was an action that was stalled on, for far too long. I can't help but to preach; to stick with smaller companies that are doing everything in their power to get it right from the beginning. We are all consumers and you have the choice to take what they're offering, by the sway of their motives, or you can make a choice to move your interest to smaller brands that completely resonate with who you are from the jump.
I don't know about you, but I personally wouldn't continue to monetarily support a brand that was knowingly feeding an unrealistic and unreasonable approach to obtaining their fashion. There is no doubt in my mind, that the standards set by this industry have become an endless circle of rewarding the small, the young and the primarily white, but I think there is even a bigger calling for people to choose where they put their money. Stick with companies who humanize their interests.
While brands should do their part to becoming obtainable for all, consumers should support small brands that have already been prepared to answer the call. Hence – comes forth – us, of the few.
Tyler J. Drinnen, is the Founder and Editor in Chief of iTEM MAGAZINE. His primary goal as a Fashion Creative, is to document fashion history in the streetwear and art sector.
From the lens of an abstract visual content producer, he holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and Media Studies from Sonoma State University; where he wrote a weekly Opinion Column for The Star, dabbled with his own radio podcast format, titled Saturday Nite Scandal, and helped to create one of the first Professional Student Lead PR Firms in the USA.
From there on, he continued his work by interning with Sonoma Discoveries Magazine and then shortly after wrote and interned for Fashion School Daily, where he solidified his love for feature writing and working with emerging talents from around the world.
In December of 2016, he received an Honorary Master of Arts in Fashion Journalism from the Academy of Art University – And what an achievement that was, to be the first in his program to have graduated a full semester early – Bringing him to four design oriented degrees in a short five and a half years, nothing will stop him from bringing art of the few, to the eyes of many.
He has worked in the fashion industry for just over a decade, from commercial retail visual management to corporate level ghost writing and consulting. Now, in this exact moment, T.J.D. takes his life public with the independent urban California lifestyle based fashion movement, iTEM MAGAZINE: A Platform For Rising Artists.