Canvas & Weaves wishes to express our unequivocal support for #blacklivesmatter. We stand strongly against racism, discrimination and aggression.
What a great and pivotal period this is to be conscious! Great because winds of positive change are in the air. Pivotal because, in equal measure, we must stand up and make our voices heard where it counts. We need to be part of the change.
Today, more than ever, we must be thankful for diversity, as our differences lend vibrance to our shared experience. And yet fashion has lagged, in many ways, by perpetuating a standardised vision of beauty. And from here stem a host of problems – body-shaming, ageism, and exclusion, with their pernicious consequences for society.
Inclusive fashion is a welcome movement for a divided world. This is fashion at its best, style that celebrates all body sizes, ages, genders, physical abilities, and ethnic identities. Brands such as Mati and The Summer House are making waves with their messages of fashion for all. They allow buyers to take a step back from the frenzied perfectionism of the fashion world and simply be themselves.
The bigger question is, why is inclusive fashion still just a niche? What could change if each of us demanded more from what we wear?
“21st century designers should not only understand what is happening in culture but they should lead culture,” Anisa Johnny, Senior Lecturer, Raffles College of Higher Education Singapore
1. Diversity Benefits Us All
We live in a world where fashion wields great influence over culture. Imagine, therefore, a world where great brands that reflect diversity are encouraged to flourish. If everyone finds a place in popular culture, and sees themselves represented equally and fairly. Fashion has the power to make large numbers of people feel less isolated.
Take, for example, Winnie Harlow, a supermodel who rocks her skin condition, bringing a message of hope. And Halima Aden, the first hijab-wearing model on the cover of British Vogue. Their presence on the mainstream stage busts stereotypes and paves the way to enjoy uniqueness.
For all of us, this could mean that our differences are to be loved, not buried or disguised. Rather than dress to conform and hide perceived flaws, we could simply dress to express. As a collective voice, we can influence the industry to make this the norm rather than rare and inspiring exceptions.
2. All Talent Would Find a Platform
There is too much of the same old, same old out there. Labels blindly follow trends in pursuit of quick profits. Selling large volumes at low prices has been a game-changer for many a large fashion house. This mass production has come at the cost of individuality and variety. Smaller, often deserving, brands have to fight much harder for attention. In its best form, fashion is art that we wear, an expression of our mood, and representative of our interests and passions. The artists that create these masterpieces need us to have these conversations to support their vision.
3. Even The Larger Chains Would Sit Up and Take Note
The fashion industry is synergistic, as much it influences societal norms, it also derives sustenance from our collective conscience. Inclusivity and cultural sensitivity are particularly important for behemoth brands, whose supply chains are routed through poorer countries where systemic gender and racial inequality are rife. To be truly inclusive, there must be deeper respect for those whose livelihoods they support. Corporate responsibility is far-reaching and profound when embedded in big organisations – the prize is diversity and equitable distribution of power in boardrooms, workspaces, studios, factories and fields. We are delighted at how fast fashion has begun to address sustainability and the environment. It is our hope that the swell of voices for inclusivity will yield similar winds of change.
4. Our Voices (and dollars) Can Help Crush Discrimination
Fashion runs deep, very deep, in our urban psyche. Our personal style and what we wear speaks volumes about our lifestyles and preferences.
Scratching beneath the surface reveals that inclusive fashion encompasses far more than clothes on hangers. It also includes the processes and people behind them, up and down the value chain. Fair and equal opportunities for a diverse set of designers, producers, photographers, stylists, models will benefit all of society.
People who would otherwise find it difficult to gain a foothold in the image-conscious industry can now bring their talents to the wider world. Which in turn can only enrich our experience as consumers.
Societal pressure and the chorus of voices is mounting, clamouring for a more just and gentler world. But this needs each individual to play their part to bring lasting change for generations to come.
Every choice we make as consumers has an impact, both directly and in how we communicate our choices to the wider world. It is our hope that inclusive fashion ceases to be a niche– and becomes a force for fundamental change in how we interact with fashion and diversity.