The disappointments from Fashion Month
Fashion weeks exist all around the globe during the month of February to debut collections for the fall/winter season of that year. Considered to be ‘fashion month’ because of the weekly shows in New York, then London, Milan, and Paris, many of the trends that came off the runway received applause from the fashion industry. But even with all the beautiful clothes and stunning trends, there were still a few things that disappointed many and became a topic of discussion. The main disappointments came from the lack of body diversity and sustainability. This hit like a punch to the gut, given that the last few seasons had more diversity in body types and sustainable practices than ever before.
New York fashion week in particular had very few plus-size models, something that was rampantly discussed given that no one quite expected this large shift back to less inclusive examples of body diversity. This wasn’t the standard for all shows, in the case of Thom Browne’s collection, Precious Lee closed out the show and other designers such as Christian Siriano, Carolina Herrera, and Prabal Gurung also had plus-sized models walk. Many came to the conclusion that this lack of diversity came from the rise in Y2K fashion and that many of the trends during that era were designed for people who were incredibly thin. However, instead of seeking to create more inclusive versions of these styles in a new decade, it seems that designers went the other way and continued to promote the vision that to be ‘high fashion,’ you must be rain thin.
Over the past few years, designers have started to design for and show all different body types on the runway. At times it may have seemed almost like a PR move, but at least it was happening. For the spring shows this last fall, 49 plus-sized models walked in multiple shows. This season? There were 31 models walking. Not too much farther of a leap, but considering that 4,000 models walked in New York Fashion Week this year and only 31 of the women presenting the clothes had a body that most women could relate to seems like a bigger issue. In London, a record number of 71 out of the 2,640 models were considered by the industry to be ‘plus-sized.’ Still not great, but it’s something.
Alongside the ebbing of body diversity, the strides in sustainability that were made during the pandemic flattened with only Copenhagen remaining a stronghold. Sustainability has long been an issue in the fashion industry with large amounts of waste coming directly from fashion month. The runway presentation of a single designer can take six to eight months to coordinate and will emit large amounts of waste. Aside from the trash that can be produced during fashion week, the need for executives to travel between four different cities releases a large amount of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. In fact, it’s been estimated to be around 241,000 tons, an amount that would provide electricity to around 42,000 homes for a year!
Copenhagen was the only fashion week where, as a whole, the designers worked to incorporate sustainable practices into their design techniques. Part of this was because the organziers of Copenhagen Fashion Week set sustainability standards based on the U.N’s sustainable development goals that must be met in order for designers to be allowed to present during the Fashion Week shows. While this would fail to incorporate the waste produced in travel, it does cut down on waste during product development.
This standard is something that I hope to see more of in different fashion capitals, particularly since there was heavy coverage this season on the lack of sustainable practices and the inclusion of different body types. Hopefully, this opens up the conversation more, allowing for all voices to be heard and we’ll see the change during September’s fashion weeks.