The London Business Journal September 2014 Issue 2

Page 52

Feature: Fashion

Is there room for change in the fashion business? London Fashion Week is undoubtedly one of the most renowned events in the fashion industry's calendar. The buzz behind models, designers and labels had everyone talking. But isn't it time for an industry so set in its ways to embrace change? Models of Diversity's Ruth Harrison­Roberts thinks so...

Ruth Harrison-Roberts Photographer Credit: Simon Blower

The Fashion industry – where do we begin? Models, designers, brands…it’s a big business. Chanel, Dior, YSL… we all know the big names. But what about the little people? The lesser known names in the industry that are making a change? The faces within the fashion industry that are pushing for progress? Why aren’t we seeing change within the industry? On the 28th of April, Models of Diversity held their first live Q&A session and due to the success of it held another on the 8th of August. The underlining issue was whether there is enough diversity in the fashion industry and the conclusion was that much more could and should be done. Everybody in the industry needs to take responsibility for making those changes happen, even us. If we don’t make our voices heard then who is going to listen?


There is a definite ripple effect that starts with a voice and lends itself out to the stores, to the suppliers and to the designers, and this all stems from the images that we are presented with in the first instance. Talking amongst ourselves is all very good but it doesn’t make a change. Working alongside the larger brands is where we will see change starting to happen. Over the last ten years retailers and designers have changed the way we shop to a considerable degree. We now have a greater choice of plus size lines, clothing available in taller sizes as well as petite and even fashionable maternity wear. So shopping has become easier if you are the average sized UK woman (size 1 6). Debenhams recently launched

September 201 4

size 1 6 mannequins in its stores, however it still isn’t enough. What about the size 0 models who wear these designs in the first place? A majority of the time campaigns cause a sensation; after all, the brand is fighting for life in a sea of other designs and needs to stay afloat and the key to doing this is by getting your campaign noticed. Name a brand that hasn’t used a shock tactic over the last few seasons? Shock campaigns are a flash in the pan, yet many brands are applauded by those who see it as foresight on the brands behalf that they are using plus size models, models of colour or models with a disability. These models all get their brands noticed. Unfortunately these campaigns only last a season and they are gone the next — back to the standard practise.

An example of size 1 6 mannequins recently introduced

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