Models on catwalk at London Fashion Week SS2019


London Fashion Week SS2019 has been and gone – and before we talk style and predictions for 2019, shall we talk about the hot potato of the week; diversity?

Don’t roll your eyes at me like that; diversity is a massive issue in the fashion world, and so it should be. Clothes, fashion and style are how we express ourselves visually – so if we can’t see people ‘like us’ on catwalks, or find clothes that fit us, it means the fashion world is excluding thousands, even millions of people.

On the face of it, the catwalks of London Fashion Week SS2019 were great for diverse bodies and people. We had 21-year old Rosanne Stuart, walking for her second year – she has down syndrome. Victoria Beckham celebrated older women in her show with 47-year-old Stella Tennant, House of Holland opened their show with Winnie Harlow, who has vitiligo. Former Paralympian and wheelchair user Samanta Bullock closed the Fashion’s Finest Show.

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Established icons like Kate Moss are all for encouraging catwalk diversity. Kate said;

“There’s so many different sizes and colours and heights. Why would you just be a one-size model and represent all of these people?”

Plus size model Tess Holliday would have to agree; as we wrote about a few weeks ago, Tess was the first really plus size model to appear on the front of Cosmopolitan, and is sometimes described a ‘supermodel’ – although not usually without the word ‘plus sized’ in front…

Models of colour at London Fashion Week SS2019

We still lag behind New York when it comes to racial diversity – the AW18 shows in February featured models of colour but while in London, 34.6 per cent of shows featured models of colour, New York did better with 37.3 per cent. That’s still only just over one third of shows, though. Surely in this day and age, we should be representing women (and men) of colour in the fashion industry better than that? It’s almost thirty years since the fabulous (and still just as fabulous, actually) Naomi Campbell sashayed onto the UK modelling scene for the first time, but we still only have 34 per cent models of colour on the catwalk?

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The British Fashion Council said that their objective is to make London the most diverse fashion week of them all, adding;

Our numbers are above the national UK average representation of 15 per cent but we’d like it to be closer to London’s population average of 40 per cent.

We’d certainly support that.

Plus size fashion diversity

So far so good with strides towards diversity on the glorious catwalks of London Fashion Week SS2019. But when it comes to plus sizes, not only are the bloggers conspicuous by their absence (and you can forget being featured in any of the street style galleries), there’s far less effort made by designers to include more than a token plussie in most catwalk shows.

There are logistical issues involved in including plus size models of course; the industry hasn’t quite caught on to the fact that 59% per cent of women in the UK are overweight, or obese, and still insists on creating sample sizes that are way smaller than they are. Most designers’ sample sizes are a UK size 8.

If a designer wants to cater for curvaceous models (for curvy, read anything over a size 8, while plus size is a UK size 12) it simply takes more effort to do it properly. There are no ‘one size fits all’ sample sizes for larger models – they will have to have repeat fittings to make sure the clothes fit well and look their best, whereas if you are fitting clothes on a size 8, tall, straight up and down model devoid of bumpy bits, everything will look the same and crucially, exactly how the designer wants it to look.

New York trounced us once again this year, having the best year so far in terms of the number of bigger models, while London is still using a token plus-sized model for the occasional show. Yes, we do have a plus-size fashion week in May, but should we still be segregating bigger models in 2018/19?

Here are a few of the best images of diverse models from the London Fashion Week SS2019 shows…what do you think? Was it diverse enough? We’d love your opinions on our Facebook Page…

Author Sarah Clark – The Word Boutique

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…and a few more to scroll through

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