Inclusive Fashion:The Future Of Fashion

by Aishwarya Motwani

July 24, 2019

Shopping, an activity mandatory for some, a hobby for some or simply a way of life for some, has evolved to fit your comfort zone.  Whether you’re the shop in sweats from your couch kind of shopper or one who’ll notice changes in window displays at stores, the experience is curated for you. While there have been constant strides forward in the experiential aspect to cater to a wide range of shoppers, the purpose of this undertaking, the final product, specifically concerning fashion, leaves a lot to be desired.

Size woes

Before the 2019 Grammy awards, nominated singer Bebe Rexha took to social media to share her woes over designers refusing to dress her because she was considered too ‘big’. She is an American dress size eight which shouldn’t even matter. When designers refuse to dress an artist at that stage for not conforming to traditional runway beauty sizes, they are actively promoting regressive ideas and recycling tired, convoluted tropes of negative self-image, not only for the concerned person but also for the millions of people watching. This practice backfires on the industry, why would you indulge in an activity that leaves you feeling awful and loathsome of yourself?  That is where the practice of vanity sizing comes in. This means smaller sizes are assigned to your clothing, to encourage you to feel better, and hence, buy more. For example, a size twelve dress could be marked a size 8 dress in one store, a size 6 in the second store, and maybe remain a size 12 in the third store. If you’re suddenly a size 6, you tend to feel more accepted socially and buy more.

Let’s say you happened to buy a size 14 dress, marked a size 14 dress but it doesn’t fit very well. How does a dress your measurement not fit? Let’s look at how the sizes are decided. Here’s where fit models come in. Designers use fit models to check how a piece of clothing fits and appears on an actual person compared to a mannequin. Once, a pattern to a certain fit model is figured out, the measurements are multiplied to calculate dimensions of larger clothes. So, while the purpose of a fit model is not met for people who don sizes larger than runway sizes, body shape is not taken into consideration, lean or curvy, apple or hourglass shape, a standard size 14 dress is left to cater to all. When a lack of finding clothes that fit is a problem, wearing your style is a faraway dream.

Body positivity movement

In case wreaking havoc on your psyche in this manner wasn’t enough, segregation of ‘regular size’ stores and ‘plus-size’ stores, is an actual practice. So, for example, someone who dons a size 18 dress can’t shop with a friend who fits a size 6 because industry traditions deem so, and there is separate humiliation for the friend who dons the size 18 dress faces, because fat acceptance is easier in theory than in application, and fat shaming is a practice shunned only in theory, sometimes not even there. Therefore, the body positivity movement was and is necessary. While it has evolved to include people across all genders accepting their bodies and loving themselves, the initial aim of the movement was acceptance of people who are considered fat, because while nasty comments are directed at people for their features  and for being on the other end of the spectrum, that is being skinny, there is actual everyday discrimination against people considered fat which leads to tangible malpractices like loss of job opportunities and misdiagnosis by healthcare professionals, to name a few.

Skin acknowledgement and acceptance

Apart from the body positivity movement, the skin acceptance movement also gained traction recently. Influencers and high-profile models talking about their skin issues like acne, psoriasis, and vitiligo has opened the door for awareness and acceptance. The idea is not to glorify skin conditions but to not shame people who may have them. Skincare has evolved to incorporate a larger diversity in skin types, moving from simply healthcare pharmaceutical to beauty pharmaceutical.

When we talk about skincare, it is predominant amongst the younger generation, as seen on social media, but it was initially marketed at older people, as an ‘anti-aging’ agent, when aging is a natural inevitable phenomenon. While it is healthy to take care of your skin, to your level best, ageism isn’t acceptable.

Cosmetics, until recently, were marketed primarily by white women, for white skin tones, defining the standard for beauty when the whole point of makeup is reinvention. Companies have slowly recognised the need to acknowledge and appreciate different skin tones and came out with a wider range of types of a product. Several beauty influencers, across the spectrum of gender and sexuality, have also helped shatter stereotypes and opened the industry to anyone who may want to participate and not restrict it to a specific gender and sexuality.

Beauty standards across the spectrum of gender

Beauty standards imposed on men are not as blaring as ones directed at women, but they exist in the subtle idolisation of six and eight pack abs and glossy covers with shirtless celebrities, in the idea that self-care is not masculine enough. They promote unhealthy drug use and conforming to behavioural standards one may not be inclined towards, damaging self-worth and lifestyle.

There’s also the idea of what we consider masculine and feminine. With a greater acceptance of non-binary roles embraced by several people, rises a need for non-binary clothing, thus redefining notions of gender bound colours, textures, and silhouettes.

There has been one clear emerging trend that seems like it is here to stay. The idea of acceptance in non-conformation and celebration of the diversity in individuality. For when we allow acceptance, we grow. For when we allow non-conformation, we grow. For when we celebrate diversity, we grow. For when we celebrate individuality, we grow. In growth, we discover the freedom and responsibility that enhances our personality and self-expression which is what fashion and style are all about, aren’t they?

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