Almost as paramount as the collections themselves, conversations surrounding inclusivity, as related to race, gender, age, abilities, and size, have overwhelmed the fashion week conversations. In a 2018 world where runway collections are as easy for a nine-year-old in the Midwest to see as an Editor in Chief, what is the responsibility of the designer to make sure there's an accurate representation of our society? Who's to say what's enough diversity? And if it's not done in a genuine way, does it even count?
These are tough questions that some of the biggest designers have been grappling with in recent years, unsure of how to answer. How can we be politically correct without sacrificing "our art"? But the up and comers? To them, the subject of inclusivity is par for the course. Perhaps a benefit of their youth, these designers are part of a generation designing for everybody. Or at least trying to.
In tandem with the 2018 CFDA Fashion Awards, we reached out to each one of the Swarovski Award for Emergent Talent nominees to ask how inclusivity plays a role in their brand. And while few directly mentioned size diversity (an area that clearly needs significantly more attention), it's clear to see that these designers are thinking of inclusivity in a big way.
"The idea of inclusion has been something that I have been raised with, being Dutch and having spent my childhood in Asia, Africa, and Europe," designer Sander Lak tells InStyle.com. "I have lived in over 10 countries so far, and I am used to being exposed to all different kinds of cultures. We are a really diverse group of people here at Sies Marjan, with over 25 nationalities represented in our company. We also communicated inclusion through the Fall 2017 campaign, which featured a cast of 12 men and women from all different ages and nationalities, ranging from 8 to 65 years old."
"Looking back at all Pyer Moss collections to date, there has always been an element of inclusion in my inspiration," designer Kerby Jean-Raymond says. "Inclusion is one of the values on which the company stands. Our Fall 2018 Runway Show, was called “American, Also”, in homage to the often underrepresented Black Cowboy and other African Americans."
"The thing we think about when we design is every woman, every body, every age," Laura and Kris Brock say. "We believe that all women need romance in their lives, and they certainly deserve it. When we develop a collection, it’s most important to us that any woman can walk into the room and gravitate towards a dress, or a pair of jeans, an evening gown, or an irresistible cashmere knit and feel an emotional connection to it."
"My brand was birthed through the need to include people in the fashion conversation, which has historically marginalized them," designer Aurora James says. "So, I think the question isn’t about what am I doing to make it ‘more.' The idea is how can we keep going to continue lifting people up with us. I created Brother Vellies in order to include people."
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"AMIRI has built a formative and paramount structure upon in-house manufacturing and supporting Los Angeles artisans," founder Mike Amiri says. "To build a heritage California brand, we believe authenticity and community inclusion must be at the forefront."