Why diversity in the fashion industry matters more than you think

#beauty, #fashion, #lifestyle

A little over a week ago, Jennifer Lopez waked the Versace runway. As a woman of color over the age of 40, this is a huge deal. Modeling is notoriously a young, white person’s game, so it’s a big deal when people outside these constructs participates in collection presentations.

In recent years, many major designers have started to emphasize diversity in their shows. Countless designers of color make a point to include women from their communities and mainstream (read: white) collections add pops of diversity to show they are accepting and an ally to underrepresented communities. Over the past few seasons, the fashion industry has decided to make age a priority as well.

Usually, designers pick models based on their age or skin tone. They pick young African American models or white-presenting women with botox in their forties. The combination of these two identity groups only recently started to gain traction in the modeling world.

Models of color continue to have to fit the white ideal of beauty, even though many women of color aren’t shaped like white women. Even in the age of the Kardashians, when junk in the trunk is romanticized, this build is seen as beautiful on white women and women of color continue to struggle to be seen. Designers often say they want black and Hispanic models, but they only use a few models of color in their shows. (Note: nothing is said about Asian woman because it remains incredibly challenging for these ladies to break into the modeling industry.)

The same is true for older women. Predominantly white actresses and musicians get the chance to strut their stuff on the runway because they have named recognition and look young. Very few women without plastic surgery or tight model bods are represented in these shows. Even the “older” women in Target’s inclusive line appear to be in the late forties with the same unattainable build and tight skin as models in their twenties–the only major difference between the older and younger women is the mature women have grey hair.

Although some news outlets will praise Versace for including Lopez in their collection because she is a Hispanic woman over the age of 45, she’s also a major celebrity. Her star power is one of the most important reasons why she was included in this show. People know her name and the story behind the original green dress. Versace wanted to highlight the relationship between the dress she wore in the early 2000s and the one she wore in mid-September; not the fact that Lopez was an older woman of color. The dresses show a continuation of themes and style in the Versace collections.

Versace wasn’t making a statement with Lopez much like how Victoria’s Secret wasn’t trying to prove something by including Gisele Bundchen season after season. These women have a certain status in fashion and beauty because they have, among other things, an establish identity which helps elevate collections.

Although many white women say they’re unhappy with the state of the modeling industry, we tend to accept these flaws because they don’t affect us the same way they affect women of color. Women over the age of 35 are often hard to cast, so we complain, but we don’t do much about it. Many women of color, like the superheroes they are, speak up about the inequalities in the fashion and beauty industries because they are more likely to be misidentified.

Fall Foods to Try This Autumn

#lifestyle

Baked Potato Soup

By Delish

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Apple Dumplings

By CincyShopper

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Pumpkin Pie Bites

By Sugar Apron

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Pumpkin Seeds

By Home Cooking Memoriesa90eac13db48de0ad669311736771e0c.jpg

Taco-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

By Mom’s Health

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Crock-Pot Fall Cider Recipe

By Almost Supermom716d36447bb4bf3a471ac95427236f89.jpg

Apple Cranberry Walnut Salad

By Creme de la Crumbb0ac6402d085ba3f8644835cddf0c4c4.jpg

Butternut Squash Quesadillas

By Ahead of Thyme

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Broccoli and Mushroom Stir-Fry

By Skinny Ms

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Where should I buy that: A helpful (?) guide to finding your Fall 2019 wardrobe.

#fashion, #lifestyle

Shopping can be hard, especially when brands change their selections ALL THE TIME. Here are some tips and tricks which might help you find your festive fall wardrobe.

Workout Leggings: Buy high because they’re an investment.

Not everyone works out, but for those of us who do, it’s often more cost effective to buy expensive brands or subscription box sets because the cheap options wear out so quickly.  A kickboxing instructor once said, “Find workout clothes made by someone who exercises how you do.” Kate Hudson’s Fabletics line has some really great options for people who sweat and strain in their garments. A pair of Athleta or Lululemon leggings might seem like an expensive ask, but they tend last. My personal recommendation is to buy one or two pairs of high-quality leggings because they are a better use of your money.

Skip Target: As price went up, the store’s quality went down.

Target doesn’t sell decent t-shirts anymore and almost everything they retail is made from manufactured fibers. As much as I love Target, their clothes have gone from a great deal to unwearable in a matter of months. The “new Target” layout hoped to engage customers in experiential retailing, but in order to make these impulse buys.

Sweaters: Look for inexpensive, quality garments.

Quality sweaters can be hard to find. In recent seasons, many major retailers have sold thin, lightweight sweaters instead of heavier, more durable garments. Some of the best companies for quality sweaters are the less expensive ones. Companies like American Eagle and Old Navy have some of the best sweater selections this season.

Boots: Find mid-priced options.

Salvatore Ferragamo and Christian Louboutin retail boots at over a thousand dollars. They’re so expensive it must be hard to wear them without worrying about scratching or dirtying them. Meanwhile stores like DSW and Famous Footwear offer budget-friendly shoes to the masses. These shoes often only last a few weeks before the pleather starts to peal and the zipper stops zipping. Good compromises can be found at department stores like Nordstrom, Lord & Taylor, and Macy’s. These companies have a variety of excellent brands at reasonable prices. These boots tend to last multiple seasons–even if you wear them everyday.

Jeans: Fit above all else.

Jeans are so hard to fit. No two companies size their denim the same way, so it’s important to learn the products fit you. There are so many options with so many different measurements, it’s important to find what works for your body.

Fashion plus sustainability equals a higher price tag?

#fashion, #lifestyle, Sustainability

It’s no secret: many retailers have changed their product quality over the last few seasons. Brands which once carried standard, simple staples now carry disposable, environmentally unfriendly garments because they want to make a profit.

Although terms like “minimalism” and “sustainability” capture the social media presence of the fashion zeitgeist of the last few years of the 2010s, many of our clothing purchases reflect a different perspective. Brands like Target and Old Navy, which became popular because they offered affordable garments to a mass market, altered their product selection to include cheaper, less wearable garments.

Even though many fashion retailers favor production value over inherent quality, there are some brands which offer long-lasting, budget-friendly items.

H+M

The Swedish retailer drew headlines a few years ago for their seemingly unethical business practices. The global chain was known for its mass market approach to selling and its lack of concern for the planet, but unlike many other fast fashion companies, H+M became a solution for its own problem. The brand famously launched sustainable lines and offered in-store fabric recycling services to decrease their environmental footprint. These amenities, coupled with the brand’s comparably better quality garments,  brought good attention to the H+M brand while other fast fashion companies–including Zara and Forever 21–scramble to appeal to their environmentally-minded target market.

GAP

GAP is often viewed as a step away from fast fashion. The San Francisco-based company is know for their comfortable, quality garments–especially denim. GAP is not completely transparent with their business practices, but they recently announced a goal for 2025–they want to use 100-percent sustainable cotton in their products. This is great news, especially in a marketplace where more and more companies imply they will improve their social image but come up short on their promises. GAP is known for its middle class price point and well-produced goods–a position which sets them apart from fast fashion retailers like Old Navy and businesswear brands like Banana Republic. The company’s placement as the leading affordable quality retailer puts it in the perfect position to endorse sustainability and encourage their customers to rethink their buying patterns.

Everlane

As a primarily online retailer, Everlane has the ability to find truly ethical, sustainable, and long-lasting products. Their mission statement includes the company’s radically transparent business practices. The one downside to Everlane is the price tag–it’s not exactly expensive, but it’s also not inexpensive. Most garments sell at a moderate price of  $45 to $150. They’re more expensive than fast fashion brands because these garments are investment pieces, so they are meant to be worn for years rather than weeks.

My model is fat and other important designer statements

#fashion

I’ve produced, assisted, and organized more fashion shows than I can count. Last summer, I worked on a team of interns who planned a New York Fashion Week show for an up-and-coming designer. In February and August, I served as a runner at the Omaha Design Center when my friends showcased their collections. For the last three falls, I’ve taught underclassmen the expectations and rules of preparing for their first show.

Even though each experience is unique and contains its own trials and tribulations, one thing is constant from event to event–models are blamed when they can’t fit into garments. Based on the old adage, or at least what my mama used to say, clothes should fit people. Garments should be made with people in mind–and many ready-to-wear companies cater to the mass market–but runway collections tend not to use fit models and blame individuals when the garments don’t fit.

Often, designers blame models’ bodies when they neglect to properly fit and adjust their garments to fit the measurements. During the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Designer Showcase at Omaha Fashion Week, many student designers complained about how their models’ bodies. Some girls were too fat because the designers refused to take out seams or adjust the garment to the model’s measurements while others were too waif-like so the garment were too loose over the illusion of curves.

The industry isn’t any better. If a female model is 5’8″ or has a curvy backside, designers pass on her headshot. Fashion companies believe they have the authority to determine the ideal body. The industry tells consumers models are lean and tall because garments look best on this body type. The “perfect” model changes from brand to brand, and it’s often based on “ideal” proportions rather than actual bodies.

Although we live in the Era of Body Positivity, very few brands and designers accept models of different shapes and sizes. Industry professionals are quick to point out plus-sized models like Ashley Graham and the popularity of diverse influencers, but “imperfect” bodies are rarely seen in high-end fashion.

Companies like Target and Aerie highlight people who have cellulite, muscular thighs and scars because they understand these are their customers. Real people buy their products, so they advertise products which fit their models rather than models who fit their products.

Since many of these companies that manufacture products for real people have a low price tag, some people argue inclusion must be limited. If a company wants to make products for different kinds of people, they aren’t considered applicable to the wider population.

Some people and brands believe a person can only be fashionable if they fit into a certain box and look a certain way. They judge others’ appearances and shame otherness.

Hopefully, high-end designers and couturiers start to change their process. Runway shows would look so much better if designers constructed their garments in a realistic timeframe with days to alter and adapt clothing to fit models. Instagram stories would accentuate the line and shape of bodies if real people were used for fittings.

These changes would be nice, but like any other kind of injustice, this problem must be fought from the inside.