Fashion has evolved in the last ten years. Through the Internet, fashion has been able to reach the masses and become apart of many more lives. Previously, only the elite had the privilege of being invited to events that displayed styles and trends that not until later on became available to the public. At the same time, can we honestly say that the industry has progressed? In many instances, the fashion industry, much like other industries, has room to grow.
In recent years, France passed a set of laws restricting the age and weight limit of models able to participate in fashion week and otherwise. But due to the outcry from the fashion industry, the laws state that they needed a certain BMI, but it is up to doctors to decide whether a model is too thin by taking into consideration weight, age, and body shape, which allows models to get around the law.
For example, Kaia Gerber is clearly and severely underweight, but because her mother is famous, she can model in Paris Fashion Week. Although her weight and BMI is not disclosed, it is evident in the pictures she posts on Instagram that she is not a healthy weight. An argument can be made, however, that younger girls (Gerber is 16) tend to have skinnier proportions and that it might just be her body shape. But it is incredibly unhealthy for brands (especially as big as the ones that she works with) to mostly use younger and skinnier girls.
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Sexism in fashion against men has been incredibly prominent. Women tend to be the primary focus of fashion, whereas fashion shows for men have had lesser attendance and prestige as compared to women’s. Male models also tend to have a lower pay grade. According to Forbes, in 2017, the highest paid model was Kendall Jenner with $22 million. Statistics for male models aren’t found readily for every year like they are for women. For an accurate comparison of male vs. female models, in 2013 the highest paid model at the time Sean O’Pry whom only made $1.5 million, $40.5 million less than Gisele Bündchen.
The estimated earnings were from "licensing ventures, runway shows, commercial catalogs, spokesperson gigs, and contracts from fragrance and fashion companies.” Since 2013, the prestige in male fashion shows have exponentially increased, but with the increase in attendance, male shows tend to include female pieces featured within the show. It essentially defeats the purpose of having separate male and female shows, highlighting the disparity between the two.
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Diverse racial casting has long been an outcry from the public. In recent years the amount of diversity has grown significantly. However, there is still room to improve. According to theFashionSpot, who collected data on this issue, “for the Fall 2017 season, we examined 241 shows and 7,035 model castings from New York, London, Paris, and Milan. For all four cities combined, 72.1 percent of the models cast were white, and 27.9 percent were women of color.”
It may come as a shock, but that is considered “good” statistics. New York is one of the most diverse cities in the world, but somehow, the amount of white models has over-reached the demographic proportion of whites to people of color within the city. With the use of primarily white models brings the question of whether the fashion industry sees white people as it’s primary focus, it’s target demographic and sees them as the majority who can afford higher-end brands. And while this is a topic that has been debated since the beginning of the industry, the main takeaway should be that brands should diversify their runway models to promote inclusivity.
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If you're heading out to an art gallery soon and don't know what to wear, read some of our tips on fashion for galleries.