I recently read a piece by model and activist Felicity Hayward in the London Evening Standard about why she boycotted London Fashion Week. In a nutshell, and you can read the piece here along with the response from editor Karen Dacre, Felicity chastised the designers showing at London Fashion Week for their lack of body inclusivity while speaking on designers at New York Fashion Week who seem to have models of all sizes as part of their ongoing campaigns.
No one can disagree with the fact that fashion needs to be more inclusive, to bring everyone into our world. Nor can anyone disagree that Felicity uses her platform to draw attention to the fact that the majority of people we see in our social media feeds, TV shows, advertising campaigns and editorials all fit into a size 6.
Here is where I would challenge Felicity to do better. Keep in mind, I do not know her personally and cannot know what is in her mind or her heart, this is an observation on her public comments, which matter. Having gone through a fair few of her statements, there seems to be a lack of intersectionality in her commentary. Inclusivity is not just about size; people of colour, LGBT individuals, those on the gender spectrum and people with disabilities, to name a few, are also grossly underrepresented in our society. Another major issue with the fashion business is that it is the second highest polluting industry in the world. Sustainability has also become a buzzword in the industry, and someone with the platform that Felicity is blessed to have could also use her voice to clear through the noise and misinformation in this arena, highlighting where there is positive change.
An activist can only make change when they can offer a positive alternative, a better way forward. The reason I started Erebus was to shine a light on designers who are moving fashion forward in a positive direction. Not only are our designers ethical in their business practices, they are sustainable in their materials and methods and strive to take everyone along on their journeys. While we will always strive to do better, our designers and others trying to make it use models of all ages and body types, affections, skin tones and genders in their imagery. It is simply part of who they are. These emerging and up-and-coming designers are now and will continue to be pushing the industry forward, but as they’re not on the stages at the big fashion weeks, their hard work just will not appear in the pages of Marie Claire, another publication where Felicity has shared her thoughts.
So call out the industry, we all know it is necessary. The fact that you speak out about the issues within the industry is commendable. But use your voice to lift up those who have, since their beginnings, made inclusivity of all kinds part of their DNA and not just those who can most afford to take the “risk” or centre stage at the world’s largest fashion events. Our designers are where sustainability meets inclusion and we are proud to lift them up.